Two men involved in an early 2017 home invasion that left another man dead pleaded guilty in consecutive hearings late Thursday morning at the Glynn County Courthouse.
Brandon McBride, 32, pleaded guilty to home invasion and theft by receiving stolen property — in the process, receiving a sentence of 15 years in prison and 15 years probation. McBride said in a proffer that he and Nicholaus Cooke-Dew, on Feb. 5, 2017, went to a mobile home in the Southern Pines neighborhood to trade a .223-caliber Ruger Mini-14 rifle for methamphetamine. Cooke-Dew, 32, was armed with a .357-caliber Ruger revolver.
McBride said the situation was already off on a bad foot before they arrived, and when one of the victims in the trailer opened the door, McBride hit him with the rifle. He said he hit the victim because he was jumpy and nervous. The fight continued into the mobile home, with Cooke-Dew firing at least once, but McBride said he didn’t see the shot or at whom it was aimed.
During the melee, McBride said Antonio Jenkins ran out the door and to Jenkins’ grandmother’s place, which was nearby. However, Cooke-Dew stepped out of the trailer, took aim at Jenkins and shot him, McBride said. Jenkins, 23, later died of his injuries.
After Assistant District Attorney Liberty Stewart put a plea offer on the table, the courtroom cleared for an ex-parte hearing, and following that, cleared again as Cooke-Dew, defense attorney Katie Wilcox Williams and Cooke-Dew’s father and sister discussed whether to take the plea offer or go to trial in September.
Initially, Cooke-Dew indicated he wanted a plea deal of at least something less than life in prison. However, after that extensive discussion with his family, Cooke-Dew agreed to take the deal offered by the prosecution.
After pleading to one count of felony murder — death resulting from aggravated assault against Jenkins — Cooke-Dew received a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years.
McBride and Cooke-Dew originally faced one count of malice murder, three counts of felony murder, two counts of home invasion, three counts of aggravated assault, seven counts of possession of a firearm during commission of a felony and two counts each of theft by receiving stolen property and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
If convicted on all counts and given the maximum sentence, both men could have faced life in prison without parole, plus 135 years.