Georgia teens charged with murder after ‘love fight’ at home, police say

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The decision by three Georgia teenagers to live in a house over an “ongoing love affair” led to a man being shot dead, according to police.

The teenagers aimed eggs at a house in Griffin, Georgia, on July 3 when Johnathan Gilbert came out unarmed to confront them, saying they had vandalized his friend’s home, police said. What started as a prank turned into a disaster when the teens ran back to their car and one got a gun. Gilbert was then shot “multiple times” before the teenagers drove away from the botched egg, leaving the 22-year-old dead in the middle of the road, police said.

The three teenagers – Sydney Maughon, 18; Jeremy Munson, 18; and McKenzie Davenport, 19 — are all charged with the first-degree murder of Gilbert, also known as Tyler Lane, in Spalding County, Georgia, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

“Because they all plotted and plotted together and traveled to the scene with the intention of committing a crime together that resulted in murder, they are all guilty as if they pulled the trigger themselves,” said Spalding Sheriff Darrell Dix County Friday. “They went to rob a house, the victim confronted them, he was killed, and they drove away leaving his body in the middle of the street. Together they bought the ticket; Now they can ride this ride together.”

In addition to first degree murder – the most serious murder charge in Georgia – the three teenagers are also accused of assault and trespassing. Maughon – who is accused of shooting Gilbert – and Munson have also been charged with murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm while committing a felony.

Dix gave no possible motive for the murder, saying only in the statement, “It appears that there was an ongoing love affair and the suspects decided to go to Gilbert’s home in Dobbins Mill and destroy it by ovaries,” authorities said not whether Gilbert was involved in the “Lovers’ Quarrel”.

It’s unclear if the teens have attorneys, and court records weren’t available as of Monday morning, Spalding County State and Superior Court assistant clerk Sherry Smith told the Washington Post. Maughon, Munson and Davenport were scheduled to appear Monday at the Spaulding County Courthouse for a bail hearing, Smith said. According to the records of the district inmates, they are all in pre-trial detention.

“No charges or charges have been filed,” Smith said.

If the youths are convicted of premeditated murder or premeditated manslaughter, they face life imprisonment or the death penalty. Georgia law defines malicious homicide as when a person “unlawfully and with malicious intent, either express or implied, causes the death of another human being.” One of the three white men convicted of murder after stalking and killing Ahmaud Arbery on the Georgia coast in 2020 was also convicted of first degree murder in 2021.

As Gilbert’s loved ones remembered him on Sunday, his family demanded justice.

“I have a hole in my soul and in my spirit that can never be filled,” Monica Gilbert, the victim’s mother, told WAGA, a Fox affiliate in Atlanta. “What I’m going through right now, no parent should have to go through.”

According to his obituary, the 22-year-old lived in Texas, where he recently earned certification as a cell tower engineer. He returned to Georgia to take care of a ticket he couldn’t pay for online, family members told WAGA, and resides in Griffin, about 50 miles south of Atlanta.

According to an incident report available to the Post, at around 4:30pm on July 3, Johnathan Gilbert saw a group attack his friend’s house on Block 100 of Dobbins Mill Road and went outside to confront them.

“The suspects ran back to the car and as Gilbert approached them, Sydney Maughon, a passenger in the back seat of the car, pulled out a firearm and shot him multiple times,” Dix said. “The suspects then drove away, leaving Gilbert dead in the middle of Dobbins Mill Road.”

Police responded to reports that a man had been shot and was not moving at around 4:45 p.m. and found the body. Gilbert was later identified through a fingerprint scan, authorities said.

When investigators arrived, Dix said they were able to locate a witness who provided authorities with information about the shooting. That information led investigators to a cell phone number for one of the suspects, which they linked to the car authorities believe was used in the fatal encounter. A gun was also found in the vehicle, which the sheriff said was the firearm used to shoot Gilbert.

“As the investigation progressed, additional suspects were identified and eventually arrested,” Dix said in a statement.

Dozens of family members and friends gathered Sunday at Indian Springs State Park in Flovilla, Georgia to honor Gilbert. In his obituary, family members remembered him for his love of fishing and his “ability to make people laugh in any situation.”

“My little ‘Ty Bug’ was so loved by everyone he met; He had an infectious smile and just big, huge blue eyes,” Pamela Eisenberg, his grandmother, told WAGA. She added, “It’s just pointless.”

Gilbert was baptized on July 1 at the Comal River in Austin, according to his obituary. Two days later, nearly 1,000 miles from his baptism, he was allegedly killed by teenagers who ransacked his friend’s home.

“The youth of this generation today believe that this is the game of life and it is not,” his mother told the Fox affiliate. “This is real, there is real pain and real sorrow.”

Praveena Somasundaram contributed to this report.

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