Police: Teen murder suspect may have stolen guns months before homicide

by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:


LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - Gwinnett police believe a teen accused of murdering his classmate over the victim's shoe collection stole guns three months before the homicide.

Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh was at the Gwinnett County Courthouse Wednesday during a bond hearing for Larnell Sillah.

Sillah is one of three Grayson High School students charged in connection with the murder of 14-year-old Paul Sampleton. Investigators insist Sillah was there the day Sampleton was bound and shot to death inside his Grayson home on Haynescrest Drive in December. Gwinnett police said the defendants hatched a plan while riding the school bus to rob Sampleton. Sillah is the only one charged with murder.

A detective testified that what happened inside of Sampleton's home could be related to a burglary that occurred three months earlier at a Snellville home.

"Approximately 12 guns -- I think it was five handguns, shotguns, and then, rifles -- were taken," said Gwinnett Police Detective Andrew Whaley.

Whaley said Sillah and co-defendant Romaine Stewart popped a rear window to the home, stole 12 guns and left their fingerprints behind.

"They located 16 prints, one of which came back to Sillah and the other came back to Romaine Stewart," Whaley said.

Police said beyond that, they have statements from a confidential informant who claims he saw several guns in Sillah's home, and that he arranged to sell them.

Police have yet to find the .45-calibre handgun they believe was used in Sampleton's murder. Police said Sillah tried to sell a .45-calibre the day after Sampleton was killed.

Sillah's mother, however, is disputing the allegations against her son.

"They don't have (any) evidence (or an) eyewitness. They (are) trying to put a case together to frame him," said Natalee Hardie.

Investigators have not said if they believe Sillah pulled the trigger. Hardie said the case against her son is circumstantial.

"Gwinnett County is going to look very, very, very bad. They made a mistake and they're very scared to say that they made a mistake," Hardie said.

Meanwhile, Sillah remains in jail because he never got his bond hearing. Instead, there was a hearing to disqualify his attorney.

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