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Mom finds no closure in pair’s guilty pleas in son’s slaying

Kimberly Johnson cries every time her 22-month-old grandson visits.

The tears flow whenever Christopher blows kisses toward the urn containing the ashes of his slain father, a man he will never know.

“He’s only 22 months, but he knows that’s his daddy,” a weeping Johnson said Wednesday outside District Judge Linda Bell’s courtroom.

Johnson and her husband, Tony Johnson, attended the opening of the capital murder case of two men charged with fatally shooting their 19-year-old son, Christopher Devereaux, in May 2009.

But as potential jurors waited in the hall, the defendants, John Coleman, 21, and Joshaun Shelby-Daugherty, 22, took a deal from prosecutors and pleaded guilty.

Coleman said he was guilty of first-degree murder, attempted murder and conspiracy. Shelby-Daugherty pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.

Both are set to be sentenced Dec. 7.

As part of the deal, prosecutors agreed not to pursue the death penalty against Coleman and dropped murder charges against Shelby-Daugherty.

Coleman faces 20 years to life in prison without parole. Shelby-Daugherty faces two to 20 years in prison.

The shooting, which grew out of a conflict that didn’t even involve Devereaux, happened in a common area of a North Las Vegas apartment complex at 6551 McCarran St., near Losee Road and Centennial Parkway.

Court documents show the facts of the case were these: Steven Jackson, a teenager, threw a rock after a fight with an ex-girlfriend. The rock hit his ex-girlfriend’s sister’s car and broke the rear windshield.

The sister, identified as Krystal Hunt, was upset about the windshield and demanded Jackson pay. Jackson, who was then 16 and had no job, said he would.

A day later, May 10, 2009, Jackson, who hadn’t paid for the windshield yet, was hanging around a common area at the complex when Devereaux stopped. A man in a wheelchair also was there.

Jackson told prosecutors that Devereaux was an acquaintance. Jackson didn’t even know his last name at the time. Then Shelby-Daugherty, Coleman and an unknown man approached the trio.

Shelby-Daugherty was Hunt’s boyfriend. Coleman is Shelby-Daugherty’s cousin. Jackson testified that Coleman said, “Which one of you (expletive) is Steven?”

Jackson stood up and said he was.

Coleman took out a 9 mm handgun and blasted away, spraying nine shots toward Jackson and Devereaux.

Jackson was struck, but the injury was minor.

Devereaux was hit in the buttocks as he tried to run away. Because he was bent over when he was shot, the bullet traveled through his body and struck his heart, killing him.

Devereaux’s son was born six months later, in November 2009.

At the time of her son’s death, Kimberly Johnson said, he was an aspiring musical recording artist. He would hawk homemade music CDs in store parking lots or gas stations.

The day of the shooting, “he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” she said.

On Wednesday, with the two men charged with her son’s death in chains and headed back to jail, Johnson said she still has no closure.

Looking at her grandson, the spitting image of his father, breaks her heart.

“I look at my grandbaby, and he looks so much like his daddy,” Johnson said as tears ran down her cheeks. “And I love him. I play with him. I smile at him. At the same time, I’m crying.”

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@review
journal.com or 702-380-1039.

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