CORDELE, GA (WALB) - After a guilty verdict in the district's first ever gang-related murder trial, the DA and Crisp County sheriff have a warning for other gang members.
Rocquel Chavers was sentenced to life without parole plus 25 years, after a jury in this courthouse convicted him Friday of killing Jasperion Armstrong last September. The DA and Sheriff hope that sentence sends a strong message to other gang members.
The Crisp County Sheriff's Office takes photos of freshly painted gang signs around town. The symbols showed up in a housing complex at the center of a shooting investigation.
Deputies say the vandalism must be cleaned before another gang comes and paints over it. "When they disrespect it, that's when you have conflict between the two gangs," said Major Joey Arzola, with the Crisp County Sheriff's Office.
The graffiti comes on the heels of the county's first gang-related murder case. Rocquel Chavers was convicted Friday for the September 20-14 murder of Jasperion Armstrong.
"The whole purpose to this murder was for the gang to exact punishment for a young man who was in violation of the gang rules," said Cordele Circuit District Attorney Denise Fachini.
Chavers will spend the rest of his life behind bars.. a sentence Fachini says sends a fair warning to other gang members. For Fachini, the case shed light on a real problem right here in Cordele. "Even in a small rural community, the gangs are a serious threat," said Fachini.
The sheriff's office is now combating that threat; vowing to arrest and prosecute anyone involved in gang activity.
"These gang members, they can bet their bottom dollar, I'm coming. I will not put up with this in this community and have the people of this community scared to go out on their front porch and to go out in their community," said Crisp County Sheriff Billy Hancock.
"If they continue with this kind of violence, we're going to end up with another murder case," said Fachini.
An outcome Sheriff Hancock is determined to prevent.
There are still four more defendants to be tried in that murder case, so Fachini did not want to comment too much on the specifics of that case, but she wants gang members to realize that their participation or affiliation with any gang is something her office will prosecute fully.