MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Shelby County grand jury indicted two men in the murder of a woman in Lakeland in January.
Demarquarious Smith, 24, and Kevin Hicks, 23, are charged with first-degree murder, especially aggravated burglary and firearms charges, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said Friday.
Erin Last, 54, was found shot to death in her home on Breezy Shore Cove on Jan. 14. A string of other crimes in the area led deputies to Smith and Hicks.
On January 14, a man was robbed at an apartment complex, telling Shelby County Sheriff’s detectives he was approached outside at gunpoint by two males, who took his wallet, and keys. Then, they forced him into his home.
One of the suspects then forced the man’s fiancée upstairs and made her transfer $600 through Cash App. Detectives said they left the complex in the victim’s truck and a four-door Infiniti.
However, video cameras at the entrance and exit of the complex helped detectives crack this case. Cameras apparently showed the stolen truck leaving the complex with the Infiniti right behind it.
Officers later discovered that minutes before that robbery and right around the corner, suspects in a similar Infiniti tried to stop a man on Bramble Bush Lane, even running toward his vehicle.
The man was able to drive away, and it was all caught on security camera. Police traced the car, did surveillance, and they were able to track down Smith and Hicks.
The Lakeland City Manager, Michael Walker, said it set off a firestorm of worry among citizens.
“Typically our residents move to Lakeland for peace and safety of the area. With a homicide it brings the sanctity of life to the forefront with the residents,” Walker said.
At a community meeting, residents wanted answers about what could be done to keep things safe. The city said they are working with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office on getting more patrols and a greater police presence in the area.
The arrests bring a little relief and still some apprehension.
“I think they are going to be concerned that these individuals that have been arrested will be released too soon and will be back out on the streets and enable them to commit additional crimes,” Walker said.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said Smith and Hicks were arrested Feb. 10 for a separate home invasion and attempted carjacking the same day in Lakeland.
Smith is in the Shelby County Jail on $175,000 bond. Hicks, who also faces more charges including kidnapping, is in jail on $675,000 bond.