Defendants utilized Georgia’s lax gun laws to intimidate “straw buyer” into purchasing weapons
Atlanta–Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr., announces the MURDER conviction, by a Fulton County Superior Court Jury, of 23-year-old JAVANTE NUNEZ and 23-year-old DAMEL ROBERTS.
On July 21, 2017, Javante Nunez, Damel Roberts, and 21-year-old Qariem Arrindell traveled to Atlanta from Pennsylvania. The three defendants are members of an illegal criminal street gang with strong ties to Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. The defendants realized that Georgia’s gun laws were less restrictive than those in the Northeast, and they intended to utilize an Atlanta based “straw buyer” to illegally purchase firearms on their behalf. A “straw buyer” is defined as someone who purchases an item on someone else’s behalf in order to circumvent legal restrictions. In this case, the “straw buyer” was a woman who lived in Atlanta and was once in an abusive relationship with Roberts. The defendants intimidated the woman into purchasing the weapons on their behalf as she feared for her life.
Nunez, Roberts, and Arindell arrived in Atlanta at 11:00am on July 22, 2017. The three defendants immediately picked up the female “straw buyer” from her home along Park Avenue SE in Atlanta. The group proceeded to several nearby pawn shops where the woman was able to purchase two firearms per the defendants’ demands. One of the firearms was identified as a Ruger 380 LCP, and the second firearm was a similar version of the Ruger handgun. The defendants then proceeded to a Wal-Mart location where they purchased a single box of ammunition before returning the female “straw buyer” to her home.
Around 8:30pm, the female “straw buyer” began conversing by phone with 20-year-old Michael Henley. Henley was a club promoter who was looking to hire female employees to work as “bottle girls.” Henley agreed to pay the woman $1,000 upfront but he asked that they meet in person to discuss her employment. As the woman spoke to Henley through text, she also conversed with Roberts who learned that Henley agreed to pay her $1,000 upfront and that Henley was meeting her to discuss the job. Roberts, Nunez, and Arrindell drove to the woman’s home along Park Avenue SE in Atlanta. When they arrived, the woman was outside talking to Henley who was seated in his vehicle. Nunez and Arindell ordered the woman, who was holding her child, back into her home. Henley then attempted to escape the defendants, but they began to fire shots using the guns and ammunition they illegally purchased earlier that day. Henley was struck (7) times and died at the scene.
After the murder, Nunez, Roberts, and Arrindell proceeded to the home of another ex-girlfriend of Roberts who lived about 2.5 miles away from where they shot Henley. When they arrived, the three defendants pointed their illegal firearms at the father of the woman’s children. The ex-girlfriend begged the defendants to leave or else she would call the police. Roberts then said,
“If you call the police I will kill you and your baby daddy.”
Nunez, Roberts, and Arrindell proceeded to hijack the man’s silver sedan, and the three defendants fled the scene. Nunez, Roberts, and Arrindell drove the silver sedan to Pennsylvania and then New York. Eventually, they were connected to the crimes and arrested.
The New York State Office of the Attorney General commissioned a study which examined the issue of illegal gun trafficking between 2010 and 2015. The study determined that a majority of the illegal guns which were trafficked to New York during that period were purchased in states along the “Iron Pipeline.” The “Iron Pipeline” is made up of (7) states along the east coast, including Georgia. These states maintain lax gun laws, and they provide gun traffickers from the Northeast easy access to Intestate-95 and Interstate-90. Between 2010 and 2015, the “Iron Pipeline” was responsible for 76% of the trafficked guns to New York. Georgia accounted for,
- 2,822 total guns to New York
- 13% of trafficked guns to New York
- 2,711 handguns to New York
ROBERTS and NUNEZ were convicted of MURDER, FELONY MURDER, AGGRAVATED ASSAULT, CRUELTY TO CHILDREN, POSSESSION OF A FIREARM DURING THE COMMISSION OF A FELONY, HIJACKING A MOTOR VEHICLE, and ARMED ROBBERY.
ARRINDELL will be tried at a later date.
(2) CONSECUTIVE LIFE IN PRISON SENTENCES.
Judge Shawn Ellen LaGrua, of the Superior Court of Fulton County, presided over the case. Assistant District Attorney Ryan Piechocinski led the prosecution of the case. He was assisted by Assistant District Attorney Kay Charles, Deputy Chief Investigator Johnna Griffin, Investigator Sammy John, and Victim-Witness-Advocate Millicent Taylor of the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office. Investigator A. Lowe, III of the Atlanta Police Department was the Lead Investigator in this case.