Spalding County

3 convicted after Ga. man shot to death feet from fiancée, kids as part of gang initiation

SPALDING COUNTY, Ga. — Three men are heading to prison and a fourth is set to stand trial for murdering a man with his fiancée and children feet away.

Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Marie Broder announced that a Spalding County jury convicted Robert Freeman III and Xavier Carter at the end of January for the murder of Jeffrey Ryan DeLuca.

Prosecutors say that in July 2020, Carter, Freeman and Damarion Sinkfield planned to rob Deluca. They say the robbery was part of Carter’s initiation into the Rolling 20s Neighborhood Bloods street gang.

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A fourth man, Ryan Willis, drove the trio to the Walden Pointe Apartments but stayed in the car during the attack.

Carter took brass knuckles and a firearm with him to DeLuca’s apartment and attacked him as soon as he opened the door.

DeLuca was shot in the back of the head and killed.

His fiancée and children were inside the apartment.

All four men sped away from the scene in Willis’ car.


Carter and Freeman were found guilty of felony murder, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, three counts of aggravated assault and violation of Criminal Street Gang Act. Carter was also convicted of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

DeLuca’s fiancée begged the judge to “not let Ryan die in vain” at Carter and Freeman’s sentencing hearing.

“There is no sentence you can give them that will bring our sweet Ryan back, but we ask you to please take into consideration the safety of the community of Griffin, and surrounding counties, where these gangs are flourishing. Let’s not let Ryan die in vain. Let’s do what we can to prevent the suffering and evil criminal street gangs inflict on the community. These acts are depriving the community of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

—  Taylor Lyons, fiancée of Jeffrey Ryan DeLuca

Both men were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for the murder charge and another 20 years for the gang charge that will run consecutively. Carter received an additional five years for having a gun.

Sinkfield previously pleaded guilty to felony murder and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Willis is still awaiting trial.

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