Five facing murder charges in death of New Albany man

Sep. 16—NEW ALBANY — Five people are facing murder, burglary and robbery charges in the Sept. 1 death of 25-year-old New Albany resident Dajour Drones.

Floyd County Prosecutor Chris Lane said Friday that Demetrius L. Roberts, Zakarion Peters, Hannah Cushing, Cortlen Berry and an unnamed juvenile are charged in the man's death.

Each person is charged with the same thing — murder, burglary and robbery resulting in serious bodily injury. Lane said he could not comment on who fired the shot that killed Drones.

Lane said the murder charge comes with a sentence of 45 to 65 years in the Indiana Department of Corrections. The Burglary Level 1 charge is punishable by a 20-to-40-year sentence with the Indiana Department of Corrections.

The robbery resulting in serious bodily injury charge comes with a 10-to-30-year prison sentence.

"In the state of Indiana we are allowed to charge what's called felony murder," Lane said, explaining there are certain crimes — robbery and burglary being among them — that if accused of those crimes, then all conspirators can be charged with felony murder. "That's what was done in this case," Lane said.

New Albany Police Department Chief Todd Bailey said four of the five individuals have been apprehended. Jail records show Cushing, Peters and Berry are being held in the Floyd County jail.

"All are in custody with the exception of one individual who's currently being pursued," Bailey said, declining to name the suspect who isn't in custody.

Bailey and Lane thanked Floyd County residents for providing tips that led to arrests in this case and both noted they do not believe there is any danger to the public.

"We have assessed the details of the case and all involved and don't feel there is a risk to public safety. This is based on case details and intelligence recently gathered," Bailey told the News and Tribune, noting he could not divulge additional details because of the ongoing nature of the case.

Lane also expressed the same opinion.

"We have no concerns about the safety of the community," he said. "We believe the individual was apprehended and poses no threat to the community. Obviously if anyone has any additional information, we encourage them to contact us."

In the probable cause affidavit New Albany Police Department Sgt. Carrie East wrote she was called to a homicide investigation around 2:20 a.m. on Sept. 1. When she arrived she observed the victim was dead at the rear of the residence with a gunshot wound to his chest.

Sgt. East wrote in the affidavit that a witness said she and the victim were lying in bed when three to four men with black masks on their faces burst into the room. The witness said she was led to another room and could hear Drones being beaten.

She said she heard one gunshot, followed by several other gunshots that weren't from the same caliber gun from which she heard the first shot.

NAPD declined to comment on what type of gun was used in the shooting, however they said Drones died from a single gunshot to his chest.

The affidavit included statements NAPD officers obtained from witnesses, including:

—A female was seen driving a 2004 beige Toyota Camry by the alleyway that connects to the back of Drones' residence. Two males came out of the residence, one wearing a mask, and one was heard yelling something toward the female driving the Camry.

—The Camry was seen driving down the alleyway after shots were heard. The vehicle picked up two males running from Beechwood and the alley. The vehicle turned right onto Lopp and left onto Macarthur Drive.

—The same car was seen the day before around 4:45 p.m. A gold, four-door passenger car with three males was seen in footage obtained by police. A police search of the footage of the vehicle observed the day before identified it as a late 1990s Toyota Camry.

—Four suspect profiles were identified from footage on a camera on Drones' property.

—The police investigation learned that two semi-automatic handguns, two or three jars of change, marijuana from a dispensary and cash was stolen from the victim's home.

During the investigation and after police learned two of the suspects were believed to live in Louisville, they used traffic cameras to pinpoint the vehicle's image at 4:37 p.m. on Aug. 31 entering New Albany at the I-64 West off-ramp to Elm Street.

About 11 minutes later the vehicle was captured on a camera in the neighborhood where the shooting occurred.

The affidavit says that on Sept. 14, police were told Cushing said she drove the men to New Albany and that the men robbed Drones. That witness then told police one of the men shot and killed Drones.

Police were later contacted by Cushing and made arrangements to meet at NAPD headquarters, the affidavit said.

During the recorded interview Cushing admitted she and Berry went with three other males to Drones' home on Sept. 1, intending to rob him of money and drugs.

She said Berry took his handgun and the other men also took firearms.

When police spoke to Berry, the affidavit said, he confirmed he and Cushing went to the victim's house with Peters, the juvenile male, and Roberts, who they said they picked up in Sellersburg.

Berry said Peters invited him to his residence to smoke marijuana, the affidavit said, and when he and Cushing arrived, Berry said they planned the robbery. Peters told Berry the victim would have $20,000 in cash and weed they could steal.

Berry admitted to taking his gun, the affidavit said.

Berry told police Cushing drove Peters, the juvenile male and him by Drones' home to see who was home and where cameras were.

Berry gave Peters a Glock gun he said he had stolen. He told police that on the night of the robbery, he found a window on the porch open and entered it. He said he tripped while trying to get inside and that his body made a thud. The other men followed and began assaulting Drones.

Berry told police that as they were getting ready to leave, they saw Drones reach under the couch and they saw a wood stock. He said he knew Drones had a "shotgun." He said he then saw Peters reach around the front door frame and fire two shots in Drones' direction.

Berry said Peters yelled the gun had broken and all three men ran out of the house. Berry told police he got into the car with Cushing first and they picked up the juvenile male and Roberts after. They picked up Peters last, he told police. Berry said Peters had multiple guns after the robbery.

The next day Berry said he called Peters to say Drones had died, and Peters hung up on him, telling him to never call again.