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Sentences announced in murder case

By Michael Butler

Sentences in the conviction of two Tallassee men for their part in a 2019 shooting death have been handed down.

Zan'quintavious Hughley and Ladrequez Holloway each were convicted of murder and assault in the first degree in Tallapoosa County Circuit Court last month.

The murder charge carried a sentence of 10 years to life. The assault with firearms had a maximum sentence of 10-20 years. Circuit Judge Kevin Hall opted for concurrent, split sentences which will decrease the time served.

A concurrent sentence means the two will serve time for both offenses at the same time instead of serving consecutive sentences separately. The split sentence is a 5/15 split meaning each will serve five years with the remaining 15 being under probation.

The District Attorney's Office of the 5th Judicial Circuit has filed a motion to reconsider the sentences. The motion states:

"The victims in this case, Julio Mercado (who was killed) and Demetrius Brown (who was seriously injured), were the Defendants' uncles. Julio Mercado's wife, Lamanda, testified that during the stress of his funeral, she had pregnancy complications which resulted in fetal demise. Not only did Mrs. Mercado lose the husband of her three children, she lost their unborn child. At sentencing, the State recommended that the Defendants be sentenced to a term of 39 years on the Murder charges.

"On July 17, 2023, without further hearing in this matter, the Court granted both Defendants’ Applications for Split Sentence, effectively amending its previous sentencing order to grant the Defendants five-year splits on the Murder cases and three-year splits on the Assault First cases, said splits to run concurrently. The State was not afforded adequate time in which to file written responses setting forth objections and requesting that the matter be set for formal hearing before amending the sentences.

"The State further requests that this matter be heard on the State’s motion for reconsideration of the Defendants' original 20-year sentences in the murder cases. It is the State’s position that the original imposed sentence does not adequately reflect the severity of the offenses presented through evidence at trial and testimony during the sentencing."

The July 5, 2019 incident occured at the 600th block of North Johnson Street just outdside of the Tallassee city limits.

"It was supposed to be a family gathering, but it turned into much more," said the deceased's wife Lamanda Mercado. "My husband was shot by family members."

Brown, who was also shot in his stomach but survived, spoke about the event from four years ago.

"We were supposed to be having a fish fry behind my brother-in-law's house. The dad came out with a gun. He got mad about beer I guess. He leaves with the gun. His son comes back with a gun and aims at me saying he'll blow my brains out. He leaves with the gun and comes back with a group of people and I hear shots.

"I was like a limp noodle. I was dying. It bothers me that my brother-in-law got killed and they're walking around with five years off a 30-year sentence. How do you do that?

"When you aim a gun at someone, and say you're going to blow their head off. You put that gun down and walk away. You come back with more people with you, that's called premeditation. You've got somebody who's been killed, somebody who almost died and you get five years in prison. That's not right. You've got people locked up for robbery doing 15-20 or more. But, you can kill somebody and get a slap on the wrist."

Ms. Mercado is also disappointed with the sentence.

"It's murder that was caused by their hands. My husband was not an animal. Even an animal, you get more years than that for killing. My husband was a human being. It's not fair. They're saying you can kill someone and not get many years.

"If a family can pull a gun on another family member, that's not family. I stay as far away as I can. I stay in Florida. I'm afraid to go there. They killed my husband. The family members of the guys that killed my husband are upset that they have to go to prison.

"It's not right on my side. I lost my husband. I lost a lot, financially - everything. We struggled. My kids lost their father. He's never going to be able to come to the birthday parties or see them grow up or say 'I love you.'"