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Two Plead Guilty in Covington Teen's Murder, Will Testify Against 4 Others

Nearly one year to the day after a Covington teen was gunned down in front of his Austinburg home, two of the six young men accused in his death have pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against the others.

Desean Peterson, 19, died after being shot on the 1700 block of Garrard Street on October 27 last year. He was remembered as an aspiring rap artist and a standout athlete and popular student at Holmes High School.

Days later, his street would be filled with mourners holding a vigil in his memory and a courtroom was full of six of the eight people ultimately arrested in connection to Peterson's death. Police Chief Spike Jones and Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders revealed that a feud between two factions of teens preceded Peterson's death.

More was learned when six young men accused in the death appeared in court together for the first time in early November. A fist fight and plans for retaliation took place prior to the shooting on Garrard.

On Wednesday, Eugene Smith, 19, and Hassan Abdullah, 19, pleaded guilty to facilitation of murder and second degree assault (a bystander was also injured when Peterson was shot). They admitted to being in on the planning of Peterson's murder and to being in the car from which the bullets flew.

Sanders is recommending fifteen years for Abdullah and ten for Smith. They will be sentenced in February.

The pair have agreed to testify against Jacob Cardenas, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, James Young, 19, Jamel Darden, 21, and Reginald Bates, 20. Each of those defendants face trial on dates between December and April.

Sanders is prosecuting the cases with Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Casey Burns. 

"I'm glad to see these two defendants have accepted responsibility for their respective roles in Mr. Peterson's murder and are doing the right thing by telling the truth," Sanders said. He added that he hopes that the guilty pleas will have a domino effect on some of the remaining defendants as prosecutors focus on those most responsible for Peterson's murder.

-Michael Monks, editor

Photo: Defendants in Desean Peterson murder case appear in court last year/RCN file