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Men sentenced in 2013 Tyler apartment murder

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Cerone Ates, Keyon Forcell, Earnest Jackson and Ladarius Warren plead guilty to murder. Cerone Ates, Keyon Forcell, Earnest Jackson and Ladarius Warren plead guilty to murder.
Four men charged with the murder of 21-year-old Joshua Robert McGill were given sentences ranging from 20 years to life in prison. Four men charged with the murder of 21-year-old Joshua Robert McGill were given sentences ranging from 20 years to life in prison.
TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Four men charged with the murder of 21-year-old Joshua Robert McGill were given sentences ranging from 20 years to life in prison in court on Monday.


McGill was shot to death in June of 2013 at the Kensington Place Apartments in Tyler.

The first defendant to appear before the judge was Cerone Ates. Ates told the court he agreed to plea guilty to murder, not capital murder as he was originally charged with.

Ates told the judge he would like to waive his right to a jury trial and plea guilty to murder. When Judge Christi Kennedy asked Ates if he was pleading guilty because he was in fact guilty of causing McGill's death by firearm, Ates replied, "no." Judge Kennedy asked Ates to describe his role in the murder. Ates told the court he drove the getaway vehicle after the murder, hid the murder weapon and did not tell authorities about the shooting. Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham told the court, additionally, the murder weapon came from Ates' home. As part of a plea agreement, Ates was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Keyon Forcell was the second defendant to appear before the judge. Forcell also waived his right to trial by jury and pleaded guilty to murder instead of capital murder. Forcell's attorney, Brett Harrison, told judge Kennedy Forcell was a party to the murder and not a primary actor. Forcell was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Earnest Jackson was the third defendant to appear before the judge. Jackson pleaded guilty to murder in May. Monday, Jackson was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Ladarius Warren was the last defendant to plea guilty before the judge. Warren was sentenced to life in prison. Warren will likely not be eligible for parole for 30 years.

Investigators said McGill was selling marijuana to Jackson and Warren, who attempted to steal it without paying for it. Authorities say the men then shot and killed McGill. According to the arrest affidavit, Warren shot McGill in the back with a Remington 870 12-gauge shotgun.

Cynthia McGill, Joshua McGill's mother, showed the court a senior photo of her son posing with his letter jacket. McGill said she was in the hospital herself when McGill was brought in, but she was not allowed to go to the floor her son was on to say goodbye. McGill thanked Ates for apologizing for his role in the murder.  She told Warren and Jackson that McGill thought they were his friends, but friends would not have done this to him. McGill told the defendants to "let God be your director," while in prison. McGill said she feels sorry for the defendant's children who won't get to grow up with their fathers because of these selfish actions. She sid they will all be judged before God one day. "All I can say is you all have really affected me. The rest is up to The Lord," said McGill. Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham said the McGill family had a say in the plea agreements. "The victim's family is a wonderful family who wanted justice for their son, but they also wanted these defendants --with the exception of the shooter-- to have an opportunity to change their ways... maybe an opportunity of freedom again somewhere down the line if they accepted responsibility for what they did," said Bingham. Bingham added, "From the get go, the Tyler Police Department, Damon Swan, Dennis Matthews and the other people that worked on this investigation did an outstanding job. Unless a case is well investigated, you never get to a resolution like this." The shooter, Warren, received the maximum sentence possible for the murder charge, which was life in prison.

The capital murder indictments against the defendants were dismissed as a part of their plea agreements on the murder charges. The men will get credit for time served. They will have to serve at least half of their sentences before they can even be considered eligible for parole


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