Driver pleads guilty in teenager’s mur­der

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael P. Rel­la­han mrel­la­han@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @Ch­escoCourtNews on Twit­ter To con­tact staff writer Michael P. Rel­la­han call 610-696-1544.

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.

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