Two Teens Accused In Killing Of Mid-South Contractor To Be Tried As Adults

(Memphis) Two teenagers accused in the killing of Collierville contractor J.P. Shelley will be tried in criminal court.

Shelley had met a fellow contractor at a home on Scottsdale needed renovation on Oct. 4, 2013. The home is in the Parkway Village area.

Fifteen-year-old Derek Cunnigham and 16-year-old Corey Sandifer are accused of robbing and killing Shelley outside of the home.

The 42-year-old was taken to The MED, initially in critical condition, but he later died from his injuries.

“Nothing good can be said about the whole situation. There’s been a loss of life, a loss of freedom. It has affected the victim’s families and the defendant’s families,” James Sanders, who represents one of the teens, said in November.

The contractor Shelley met that day testified in court, where a judge decided to transfer Cunningham and Sandifer, two of three suspects, to criminal court.

He told the court that he met Shelley, they looked around inside of the house, then went outside and were chatting when two men ran from behind the house and demanded their wallets.

The contractor said he and Shelley both handed over their wallets, as well as an iPhone and iPad.

Shelley even told the suspects “if you want the money, it’s no problem.”

But after handing his wallet over, Shelley was shot in the neck.

The other contractor told the court, when handing his wallet to the suspect, he looked him and the suspect told him “not to look at me.”

He said that it was a second later that the shot was fired and Shelley fell to the ground.

The contractor told the court that after Shelley was shot, the suspect bent down and took his iPad and wallet, which were on the ground.

He testified that after the suspects ran, he tried to help Shelley and saw someone drive by, whom he flagged down and asked to call 911.

Sgt. Robert Wilke with Memphis Police Homicide also testified.

He interviewed both Cunningham and Sandifer the night they were arrested.

Wilke testified that they and another teen, who was in a nearby getaway carm were involved in the shooting.

Wilke testified that Sandifer admitted to being involved in the robbery, but said he ran around the corner before the shot was fired.

He said the two had decided that since it was “Friday and folks had their paychecks” that they would rob someone.

They then drove around and spotted Shelley and the other contractor.

Sandifer also told Wilke that he told Cunningham after the shooting that “he made a big mistake” and that he “took someone’s family.”

Wilke read a statement where Sandifer told him “this was his biggest mistake” and that he was “very sorry.”

Sandifer also told Wilke that Cunningham “doesn’t care about anybody but himself.”

Both teens told police they were members of the Hoover Crips gang and held different positions.

A 16-year-old name Travelle “Ace” Speed lived just across the street from where the shooting happened.

He told the court he was outside playing with his daughter when he heard the shot.

Ace told Wilke that after the shooting, he ran inside.

A few days later, he told the court he was with Cunningham, also known as C-Money, and said he heard Cunningham say he shot the man “because he wouldn’t give him his money.”

Ace also told the court that he also heard Sandifer tell Cunningham “I’m not going to jail for you killing him.”

Ace was arrested with Cunningham days after the murder, but not charged in this case.

Both Cunningham and Sandifer have previous juvenile interactions.

Cunningham had 16 prior interactions with juvenile court. He also had 64 different session of therapeutic intervention through DCS.

His previous charges included domestic assault, disorderly conduct, aggravated sexual battery.

His records showed that he had refused therapy while in a Youth Development Center and was disrespectful at home.

Sandifer was first arrested in 2012 for vandalism and criminal trespass. He was sent to a Youth Development Center for the criminal trespass charge.

In court, it was also revealed that Sandifer was enrolled in North West Prep in September of 2012 but never attended.

After court Wednesday, Shelley’s widow, Beverly, spoke with News Channel 3.

“Page after page after page, again what does it take to get someone locked up? This is ridiculous. The thing that bothers me is that no matter what happens with these defendants get online, there are thousands of others. Look on facebook, they are proud of their gang affiliation, they are proud of their handguns,” she said.

“This was his 16th contact with the system, we counted 15 prior, as the judge said he had been through everything program possible so there’s really no chance at rehabilitation,” said Prosecutor Ray Lepone about Derek Cunningham.

The third suspect, Terrell Johnson, will be tried separately. His transfer hearing will be held December 18th.


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