For the first time, two men and a woman with possible gang ties suspected of first-degree murder in the death of 3-year-old Major Sutton appeared in court Wednesday, an occasion Supervising Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer referred to as “a big day for justice.”
Tyrone Deangelo Johnson, 21; David Reagan Palms, 19; and Myeisha Bernice Dale, 29 were arrested Feb. 16 in connection with the shooting and were set to be arraigned Wednesday. They stood in shackles, covering their faces from news cameras with sheets of paper as attorneys postponed that arraignment.
Major was gunned down after police allege the three suspects kicked down the door of his family home before Midnight Nov. 10 and opened fire, killing him and injuring his pregnant mother and 5-year old brother.
Johnson and Palms were the shooters, while Dale drove the getaway vehicle, according to court documents.
The three are each facing one count of first degree murder, plus gang charges, gun charges and two special circumstances that qualify them for the death sentence if found guilty, Zimmer said. They’ve also been charged with two counts of attempted murder for the victims who survived the shooting, Zimmer said.
The child’s death sparked outrage in a community fed up with gang violence, along with the February 2017 murder of 5-year-old Kason Guyton, who police also suspect died at the hands of gangsters. Kason's case remains unsolved, and a $20,000 reward will be given for information leading to an arrest. Bakersfield Police Department Chief Lyle Martin has called the murders “despicable and cowardly acts,” and launched multi-agency investigations of the East and West Side Crips street gangs, vowing to hunt down the killers and restore justice.
“Bakersfield Police Department and the Kern County District Attorney’s Office have been working for quite some time to determine who committed these heinous crimes,” Zimmer said. “This is a big day for us. This is a big day for justice.”
According to Kern County court records, Johnson has had 12 arrests since 2014 and has been convicted in eight cases. His last court appearance was in January, when he pleaded no contest to obstructing/resisting a peace officer.
Court records show Dale and Palms were each arrested once prior to Friday. Dale pleaded no contest in 2012 for being drunk and disorderly. Palms pleaded no contest for misdemeanor battery and obstructing a peace officer last year.
Johnson, Dale and Palms are schedule to be formally charged Feb. 28. No bail has been set.