WYDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.
It was Alphonzo Jackson, 21, who came forward last year with the name of 17-year-old Dylan Peters’ killer, but the prosecution and defense agreed this may not have happened if Jackson’s stepfather had not urged him to talk to police.
“He is the true hero of this event, if there is one,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Ben Hahn said.
York-Poqouson Circuit Court Judge Richard Rizk said it was the stepfather’s encouragement, as well as the lack of a significant criminal record, that led him to sentence Jackson near the low end of the sentencing guidelines for conspiring to commit the robbery that led to Peters’ death.
Jackson, a Newport News resident, pleaded guilty last October to the conspiracy charge. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison with all but a year and four months suspended. He was also ordered to have no contact with Peters’ family or his two co-defendants, Tevin Lambert and Evan Tyler.
During his argument, Hahn said there was “no question” in the minds of the Commonwealth and law enforcement that Jackson, Lambert and Tyler “entered into an agreement to commit a robbery” on Jan. 27, 2015.
Tyler, who was a juvenile at the time of the incident, ultimately went through with the robbery, knocking on the door of Peters’ house to steal drugs and money around 3:45 p.m. Tyler and Peters had a brief conversation outside the home before Peters “jumped back” inside and attempted to hold the door shut, Hahn said during Tuesday’s presentation of evidence
Tyler then fired five shots through the door, Hahn said. All five hit Peters, with the fatal shot penetrating his heart.
The next day, Jackson was interviewed by York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office deputies and gave them Tyler’s name.
“But for his cooperation, we wouldn’t have secured the killer as quickly as we did,” Hahn said.
Jackson was arrested last April for his involvement in the crime. His attorney, Patrick Bales, said his client knows he can never make up for what he and his friends did, so he wanted to do everything he could to make sure Peters’ family did not have to “relive the event.”
“Every day he remembers what he did, what happened, because he couldn’t look beyond what he wanted right there and then,” Bales said.
Lambert, who gave Tyler his backpack to “carry away the loot,” pleaded guilty and was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison with seven years suspended.
Tyler pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of second-degree murder, attempted robbery, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, shooting into an occupied dwelling and attempted statutory burglary while armed with a deadly weapon.
Tyler’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for August 2.