6 suspects in Upatoi home invasion-turned-murder plead guilty

Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 4:59 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 6, 2023 at 12:21 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - One of six co-defendants in a Upatoi home invasion turned deadly shooting confesses guilt to all crimes, changing everyone’s once not-guilty pleas to guilty right before the trial’s jury selection was to begin.

“You could have took everything from me that night, but you took, so much more,” says the victim’s mother in this case, Autumn Tillery.

Tillery stood tearful in a Muscogee County courtroom as she recalled two home invasions at her house in Upatoi on Jan. 8 and 18, 2020 - the second incident leaving her son, Cross Henderson, shot and killed.

According to the state, the armed robbery was over money and a million dollars worth of marijuana.

“Every day, I put a foot forward because I want to make him proud and continue to make him proud. And I can only hope and pray for you,” said Tillery.

Co-defendants, Ceuion English, Anthony Foster, Trevonuis Williams, Laqwane Kindred, Mercedes Kraft and Toni Toole, a female who was a juvenile at the time of the crime, are all charged with murder for the shooting death of Henderson.

The two women, 21-year-old Mercedes and now 19-year-old Toole, entered guilty pleas on robbery charges that the judge accepted. They will be sentenced at a later date.

“We were ready for trial with the exception of the two females. So after that, we were really surprised when we got here this morning, and people started folding,” said English’s defense attorney, Jennifer Curry.

In court, Foster, 26, gave a proffer on behave of the state, admitting to conspiring with the other co-defendants in the robbery. The co-defendant answered “yes, ma’am” to all the state’s questions, revealing he and his co-defendants’ guilt in robbery, aggravated assault, imprisoning individuals against their will, and ultimately killing the victim.

Subsequently, English, Kindred and later Williams, accused of pulling the deadly trigger, changed their not-guilty pleas to guilty.

As for the defense attorneys in this case, they say it was an entirely surprising turn of events.

“Mr. Foster’s proffer, it definitely added another element as for as us to what we needed to do in this case,” said Kindred’s defense attorney, Williams Kendrick.

Following the plea change, Williams and English were sentenced by the judge. English was sentenced to 30 years in prison, having to serve 20. While Williams, the shooter, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole for malice and felony murder in addition to a long list of other charges.

The other co-defendants are expected to come back for sentencing at a later time.

Additionally, the victim’s mother, Autumn Tillery, also faces separate charges of possession of marijuana related to the case.