Three Jasper County men are going to prison for their roles in a shooting that killed one teenager and injured another in March 2018 in the Beaver Meadow Community, just north of Sandersville.

Travis Kentrell Bunch, 27, of Paulding was ordered to serve 33 years in the full-time custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections after pleading guilty in Jasper County Circuit Court on Friday to second-degree murder and aggravated assault in the shootings of two Simpson County teens. 

Quaddarrius Margun Sumlin, 27, of Pachuta was ordered to serve 30 years after pleading guilty to both crimes, and Jeremy Oshea McKenzie, 31, of Paulding was ordered to serve 10 years after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

They admitted to shooting and killing Mercedes Angelique Dudley, 18, of Mendenhall and wounding Rosalind Tykiara Taylor, 18, of Magee in a hail of gunfire that was fired into Dudley’s Nissan as it slowly cruised down County Road 113 in rural Jasper County just before 3 a.m. on March 24, 2018.

“This was a senseless crime that resulted in the death of a beautiful young woman and serious injury to another,” District Attorney Matt Sullivan said. “There are no words that accurately articulate the impact of a tragedy such as this one. 

“I can say that I am very proud of the efforts of the investigators with the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department and my staff, most notably Investigator Daniel Gilmore and Assistant District Attorney Chris Hennis. Everyone involved in the prosecution did their job, and justice was ultimately served.”

That investigation ruled out two elements that were initially suspected — that Dudley was pregnant and that the crime was gang-related. The autopsy results proved that she was not pregnant, so that was ruled out. And though there is continued suspicion that the crime was related to gang activity, “the admissible evidence did not legally support indictments for gang activity,” Sullivan said.

The residents at the home the suspects were at reportedly believed that the car was occupied by rival gang members, but sources said that Dudley and her friends were checking up on her boyfriend to see if he may be cheating on her. The boyfriend, who had been celebrating his 18th birthday, was reportedly inside “passed out” when the gunfire started.

More than a dozen shots were fired into the car, Gilmore said. Handguns, “assault-style” rifles and a sawed-off shotgun were all seized during the investigation. 

Dudley, who was driving, was killed while Taylor was struck in the back and another passenger, 19-year-old Diyquaviousc Kardall Ellis of Laurel, “grabbed the wheel and hit the gas and got them out of there,” Jasper County Sheriff Randy Johnson said at the time. He drove about three miles, to the Circle K convenience store in Sandersville, where other assistance arrived.

Judge Stan Sorey sentenced the defendants. Bunch was ordered to serve 23 years for murder and 10 years for aggravated assault and Sumling got 20 years for murder plus 10 for aggravated assault. The sentences will be served consecutively, meaning they will have to serve the time for each offense.

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