The young men accused of blinding a 5-year-old Lexington child shot into the wrong house, a Lexington detective testified Tuesday.
Detective Jordan Tyree said Tuesday that the suspects in the Dec. 21 shooting intended to target the home of another person with whom 18-year-old Michael Lemond had gotten into an argument on social media. The intended target allegedly disrespected the victim of a 2019 homicide. But the suspects had the wrong address.
Lemond and Teyo Waite, who’s also 18, have been charged with two counts of assault and two counts of wanton endangerment over the shooting. Their cases were waived to a grand jury after a preliminary hearing Tuesday. The grand jury evaluates evidence and decides if the case moves to its trial phase.
Five-year-old Malakai Roberts was shot in the head and blinded when his house in the 200 block of Catera Trace was mistakenly shot up in the early-morning hours, Tyree testified. The boy, who has since turned 6, also lost his sense of taste and smell.
“They simply got the wrong house,” Tyree told the Fayette County District Court during the hearing.
Malakai’s mom, Cacy Roberts, was hit with the same bullet. It entered and exited her arm, according to police.
“There were numerous bullet holes all through the upstairs and downstairs of the house,” Tyree said.
Tyree told the court Tuesday that Lemond confessed to shooting into the Roberts’ home. Lemond was already in the Lexington-Fayette County Detention Center on unrelated charges.
Lemond’s phone was seized in his prior arrest, Tyree said. When going through the phone, investigators allegedly found a text thread from the night before the shooting in which Lemond talked about the argument he got into on social media. He asked about guns in the texts and eventually made a gun transaction with someone whose name wasn’t released.
The next morning, after the shooting had occurred, Lemond allegedly sent a screenshot of a news article about the shooting to the same individual, Tyree said.
The person Lemond was texting told Lemond to “stay low,” Tyree said.
Lemond also allegedly texted someone else about an hour before the shooting and told them, “I love you ... but I can’t let this s**t slide,” Tyree said.
The intended target, who lived near where the shooting happened, allegedly “disrespected” Bryant Gaston, the victim in a fatal 2019 shooting. A 15-year-old was charged with murder in Gaston’s death.
Lemond allegedly told investigators that Waite was also on scene, shooting into the home.
Police had begun investigating Waite after receiving information in February from a confidential informant that Waite may have been involved, Tyree said.
Tyree testified that he observed Waite holding guns in “numerous photos” on social media and obtained a search warrant for the social media account.
One of the guns in the photos was a Kel-Tec Sub-2000 carbine rifle, a unique 9 mm firearm that folds vertically, Tyree said. The shell casings found at the scene of the shooting were consistent with the gun, Tyree said.
While investigating the account, Tyree said he found messages sent by Waite in which he asked another individual for .45-caliber bullets. Tyree said he also discovered that Waite had saved a news article about the shooting and victims.
Police had further reason to believe Waite was involved when the Georgetown Police Department found a Kel-Tec Sub-2000 rifle in April that was traced to the Catera Trace shooting, Tyree testifed.
“That rifle did look exactly like the rifle that Mr. Waite was holding, and KSP then later confirmed that,” Tyree said.
The gun was more easily identifiable because it had “aftermarket features to it,” Tyree said.
Waite was charged on Thursday, according to police.
Suspect’s attorney: No concrete evidence to say he fired shots
Waite’s attorney, Daniel Whitley, argued to the court that there was no evidence to suggest Waite was the “principal actor.” Waite’s charges, based on the evidence presented by Tyree, should be “some kind of facilitation,” Whitley said.
Tyree admitted that police hadn’t obtained geolocation information to place Waite at the scene. But Tyree believed he had evidence to suggest Waite shot into the house.
“They’re both responsible, in my opinion,” he said.
Lemond allegedly identified the gun obtained by Georgetown police as the firearm Waite used in the shooting, Tyree said. Tyree said Lemond identified the gun after being shown a photo of it.
Whitley also contested the wanton endangerment charges. The wanton endangerment charges were filed because Malakai Roberts’ brother and a roommate were in the home, Tyree said.
Judge: Suspects are danger to the community
Fayette District Judge Lindsay Thurston refused to lower Lemond’s and Waite’s bonds after hearing arguments from both teenagers’ attorneys.
Thurston had previously set the defendants’ bonds: $40,000 for each defendant. Thurston said she raised Lemond’s bond after receiving more information about the number of assault and wanton endangerment charges he faces.
Whitley asked for Waite’s bond to be reduced to $10,000 full cash.
“I realize that this case has impacted the community greatly. The community has rallied behind (Malakai Roberts). They should,” Whitley said. But he argued his client wasn’t identified as a high-risk for re-offending if released from jail and deserved a lower bond.
Prosecutor Mitch Zegafuse argued against either defendant getting a lower bond because of the severity of the charges and the harm done to the victims.
Thurston said Lemond and Waite were threats to the community if they were to be released.