Gang-related murder suspect denied bond

By Sheila A. Marshall

Managing Editor

Javarious Leondre Verdell, the 18-year-old suspect in the Feb. 2 murder of Ivan Matthew Sierra, has been denied bond and will remain in the Spalding County Jail pending trial.

Officials of the Griffin Police Department say the incident stemmed from a fight at a Friday night party.

Verdell and Sierra are believed to have been rival gang members, officials say.

“I think it was just a skirmish between people at the party,” GPD Chief Frank Strickland said. “The victim left and returned for his bike and phone and that’s when the shooting started.”

A number of shots were fired, with Sierra sustaining a single gunshot wound to the back.

“He (Sierra) ran about 150-200 yards and collapsed in the middle of 9th Street. They were actually at a party on New 10th Street,” Strickland said.

Investigators on Monday announced that up to $2,000 was being offered by Crime Stoppers for information leading to Verdell’s arrest and conviction, but officials say it was old-fashioned ground work that resulted in the suspect’s arrest.

“There was a lot of leg work done in this,” said Sgt. Richard Phillips, of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU). “We actually went to several locations in Clayton County before the one where he was arrested.”

According to Maj. Terry Brock, who heads up the GPD’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID), investigators worked painstakingly to apprehend Verdell.

“There was long-term surveillance that led to the suspect’s arrest,” he said.

With assistance from the Clayton County Police Department’s Special Operations Unit and SWAT team, members of SIU took Verdell, who had been deemed armed and dangerous, into custody at 3:15 a.m. Tuesday following the execution of a search warrant.

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