Man Pleads Guilty to Murdering Federal Witness and Others

On Monday, the 13th of June, 2022 the U.S attorney’s office for the Pennsylvania district made public the fact a suspect named Jerell Adgebesan, 34, from Maryland has pleaded guilty to the murder of 3 individuals on June 25th, 2016. One of these three individuals was helping law enforcement agents in the fight against drug peddling both at the state and Federal level. The suspect pleaded guilty before United States District Court Judge Christopher C. Conner and he stands in danger of facing a life sentence.

Investigation into the murder had taken 6 years before the suspect was brought to court, the murders took place at a premises in Franklin county in 2016. When the officers from the State Police Department in Pennsylvania got to the location, they recovered the violence that had occurred on the victims Wendy Ann Chaney 39 years old, Brandon Cole, 47 years old and Phillip Matthew Jackson, 36 years old all of them were shot, the premises belonged to one of the deceased Matthew Jackson. The hands of the deceased were tied to their backs and they were burnt. In addition, two of the victims, Jackson and Cole had gunshot wounds in the head while Chaney had a gunshot wound in the head and in the back. All the victims except Matthew Jackson were dead before the authorities arrived at the scene, Matthew Jackson however died on the way to the hospital. 

The pointers before the court that led to the guilty plea showed that one of the victims Wendy Chaney was dating two of the defendants Kevin Coles and Torey White and was very helpful in their illegal drug business. The two defendants; Cole, White and another defendant Devin Dickerson got information of the fact that Chaney was assisting the police in their drug combating efforts and they made arrangements for her to be killed. Adgebesan together with yet another defendant contracted some persons who are part of a gang resident in Baltimore known as the Black Guerilla Family to head to the location and carry out the murders, the contracted killers were told that they could take for their payment the $20,000 which would be kept in a safe in the barn as well as any drug and firearm they could find on the property. When the killers arrived at the location, they saw not just their target, they found Brandon Cole and Matthew Jackson on site and they killed all of them. Chaney was murdered to end her threat on the drug operation of the Defendants, while the others were killed to ensure that there were no witness to the crime. The reward which was promised to the killers was found including the firearm and some drugs, however the $20,000 that was promised was never found at the barn. The Defendants who were charged for the crime along with Jerell Adgebesan included the following:

  • Kevin Coles, 36 Years old, from New York and Hagerstown, Maryland, he had been found guilty in April for multiple crimes, including murdering for hire, drug trafficking and robbery. He is currently awaiting the delivery of his sentence
  • Devin Dickerson, 31 years old, from Hagerstown. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and heroin, he is also waiting for the delivery of his sentence.
  • Kenyatta Corbet, 38 years old from Hagerstown also, pleaded guilty to the Hobbs Act robbery and also pleaded guilty to being an accomplice to the use of a Firearm during the Robbery, he is also awaiting his sentence. 
  • Michael Buck, 30 years old, from Hagerstown, pleaded guilty to Hobbs Act robbery and to being an accomplice to the use of a firearm during the robbery, is also currently awaiting sentencing;
  • Nicholas Preddy, 29 years old, from Baltimore, pleaded guilty to attempted murder of a witness, is also awaiting the passing of the sentence;
  • Johnnie Jenkins-Armstrong, 22 years old, from Baltimore, pleaded guilty to Hobbs Act robbery and to being an accomplice to the use of a firearm during Hobbs Act robbery, is also awaiting the passing of his sentence;
  • Terrance Lawson, 31 years old, from Baltimore, was convicted and sentenced to time served for attempting to intimidate a witness;
  • Tyrone Armstrong, 30 years old, from Baltimore, was convicted and sentenced to time served for attempting to intimidate a witness;
  • Christopher Johnson, 31 years old, from Baltimore, Maryland, pleaded guilty to multiple counts including murder for hire and is awaiting sentencing 
  • Mark Johnson, 35 years old, from Baltimore, Maryland, pleaded guilty to obstructing the grand jury’s investigation and is awaiting sentencing; and
  • Llesenia Woodard, 46 years old, from Hagerstown, Maryland, pleaded guilty to providing false testimony to the grand jury investigating the murders and is awaiting sentencing.

Others include Joshua Davis, 30 years old, who had also pleaded guilty to being a participant in the conspiracy to find and kill a person who was suspected to have been working with federal authorities in this investigation to determine who killed the three persons. He had been convicted and sentenced to serve a period of 100 months in prison. Torey White, on his part is awaiting his trial scheduled to begin in January 2023.

The investigation enjoyed the participation of both Federal, State and Local agencies such as the:

  • Pennsylvania State Police,
  • Drug Enforcement Administration Harrisburg Resident Office
  • Franklin County Drug Task Force
  • Franklin County Adult Probation
  • Pennsylvania State Probation and Parole
  • Hagerstown Police Department
  • Criminal Investigation Division
  • Washington County Narcotics Task Force
  • Maryland State Police 
  • United States Attorney’s Office
  • Washington County State’s Attorney’s Office

This was a part of the DOJ’s Project Safe Neighbourhood, an effort by the Department to drastically reduce the incidence of violent crime, these efforts have shown that they are capable of reducing the cases of violent crimes and solving the ones committed.
Furthermore, this was also done as a means of combating the nationwide ravaging problem of the distribution and use of heroin, this combatting of heroin is targeted at persons distributing these drugs in the middle district of Pennsylvania. 

This investigation also forms part of the Organised Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) popularly known as “Retribution for Welsh Run and this is handled by all levels of government including the Federal, State and local government levels, which was created for the particular purpose halting the advancement of the use and distribution of drugs at both national and regional levels. The maximum sentence for these crimes include a life sentence, or after imprisonment, a period of supervised release. 

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