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Suspects plead guilty in 2009 Bladen County murder

READ MORE: Suspects plead guilty in 2009 Bladen County murder
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ELIZABETHTOWN, NC (WWAY) -- An Elizabethtown murder investigation is now closed. More than three years ago, a shootout at a fast food restaurant ended with a 19-year-old dead. Today, the last two defendants entered a plea in court.

"It takes away a little bit of the pain, but no matter how long it's been, it will never bring my son back, so justice still hasn't been served," Dora Johnson said. Her son, Jakee Sledge was killed during a shootout in the parking lot of the McDonald's in Elizabethtown in January 2009.

Now, more than three years later, the final two men involved in the shooting pleaded guilty to second degree murder. One was Ricardo Melvin, Sledge's best friend. They were at the McDonald's together to confront a rival gang.

"The lesson here for all young people should be this: if you hunt with the pack, you're responsible for the kill," District Attorney Jon David said. "Even unintended consequences such as your friend or co-defendant dying can result in criminal liability for you."

Investigators are not sure who fired the fatal shot.

David said this was a significant case, because you have four people going to jail for murder when you only had one bullet and one victim.

David says Sledge and Melvin were from Clarkton in a gang affiliated with the Crips. The other defendant, Unique Lesane, was from a Dublin gang. Since their arrests, investigators say gang activity in the county has gone down.

After the guilty pleas, a judge sentenced Melvin to a maximum 10 years behind bars. Lesane could spend up to 12 years in prison.

This chapter is now closed for Sledge's family, but that doesn't make it any easier.

"My heart will bleed for the rest of my life for my son, I love my children, I love my children dearly," Johnson said.

The other two defendants, Jason Johnson and Terrance Daniels, already pleaded guilty. They will be sentenced later.

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