Driver pleads guilty in teenager’s murder
Bryon Stevens, 20, of Valley, entered pleas to charges of robbery and conspiracy as well as murder Wednesday.
WEST CHESTER >> The man who drove the car in which a 17-yearold West Chester high school student was shot and killed running a sham drug deal pleaded guilty to third-degree murder charges Wednesday, agreeing to cooperate with the prosecution if two of his co-defendants — one of him a cousin — go to trial.
Bryon Stevens, 20, of Valley, entered pleas to charges of robbery and conspiracy as well as murder before Common Pleas Judge James P. MacElree II in the August 2015 death of Cristian Santiago. He was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in state prison as part of a plea agreement between his attorney, Francis Miller of West Chester, and the prosecutor in the case, Deputy District Attorney Thomas Ost-Prisco.
In explaining the reason for the agreement, Ost-Prisco told MacElree that Stevens, after his arrest last year, had cooperated with police investigators, leading them to the whereabouts of the gun used to kill Santiago. He also identified the shooter as his cousin, Darrell Woodward.
Before his confession, OstPrisco said of Stevens, “we didn’t know who pulled the trigger.”
If he had gone to trial, Stevens could have been convicted of second-degree murder, which carries with it a mandatory life sentence without parole.
Seated in the courtroom as they were last week when another of the five co-defendants in the case pleaded guilty were members of Santiago’s family, who addressed the judge about the impact the murder had had on their own lives and those of their family.
According to Ost-Prisco, Stevens was contacted in the late afternoon of Aug. 20, 2015 by Woodward, who told him that another man, Gerald Myers of West Chester, who is related to Woodward, had asked for their help in robbing a drug dealer. They were told they would get $600 and ¼ pound of the drug.
The two men traveled from Coatesville to West Chester in Stevens’ car, and met Myers and a woman named Caleesha Miller, at the Lukoil gas station on Hannum Avenue. They waited there for Santiago to arrive. When he did, Woodward told him to get in the car to avoid being recorded on surveillance cameras.
When Santiago got in the car, Stevens drove away from the station on West Wayne Street. At some point he heard Woodard draw a gun on Santiago and the teenager say, “Come on, man.” Two seconds later, he heard a gun shot, Stevens told police.
Stevens drove to a street outside the borough in East Bradford, where Myers pulled his body out of the car and left it by the side of the road. Stevens and Woodward then drove back to Coatesville, where Woodward left the gun with a friend and Stevens cleaned the car.
Ost-Prisco said that Stevens told police his cousin instructed him to memorize a story about how Myers had fired the weapon that killed Santiago if he was picked up, so that Myers would take the blame for Santiago’s death.
In addition to the state prison sentence he will begin serving, Stevens was also sentenced to 10 years consecutive probation.
Myers and Woodward are awaiting trial in Chester County Prison.