All five men who were indicted on charges in relation to the killing of a local man on West Washington Street in Athens last November have pleaded guilty and are now in jail.
Troy Allen Vermillion, 28, of Athens, pleaded guilty on Oct. 7 to several felony charges – including complicity to involuntary manslaughter – relating to the killing of Charles Duncan Sr., 55, of Athens and was sentenced to nine years in prison, with three years of post-release control.
Vermillion’s co-conspirators Michael Allen Russell, 19, of Glouster, Bernard Mitchell, 24, of Athens, Jonathan Champe McLaughlin, 24, of Glouster, and Robert A. Martin, 27, of Athens, also were convicted for crimes connected to the death of Duncan (Martin in September 2019, Russell in August 2019, and McLaughlin and Mitchell both in December 2018).
Duncan was shot through the door of his girlfriend’s apartment at 221 W. Washington St. in Athens on Nov. 2, 2018. Russell, Mitchell and McLaughlin were present at the apartment at the time of the shooting; two different men, Vermillion and Martin, were part of a drug ring that the entire group was involved with, and were involved with planning the attempted burglary that led to Duncan being shot and killed, Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn previously reported. Russell was the one who pulled the trigger in this case, Blackburn confirmed.
“They’re accused of being involved with an earlier drug transaction that led to the attempted burglary…” Blackburn has said of Vermillion and Martin. “That earlier transaction was allegedly a drug deal in which the victim did not pay for the drugs, which caused these three (Russell, Mitchell and McLaughlin) to come back.”
All five men are accused of “engaging in the trafficking of methamphetamine,” Blackburn previously said.
“Each are accused of accepting stolen property as payment for the drugs. It is believed that some of the individuals broke into homes and buildings themselves and took items including a Kubota lawn mower, firearms, jewelry among other items,” Blackburn said in the release. “All individuals involved are drug dependent and/or in danger of being drug dependent and regularly possess, steal, transfer, or have control over firearms. It is further alleged that on Nov. 25, 2018, these individuals are responsible for the death of Charles Duncan Sr., resulting from the shooting of a firearm through the front door of the residence that Duncan was in.”
Vermillion pleaded guilty to a second-degree felony count of complicity to involuntary manslaughter; a third-degree felony count of having weapons while under disability; a third-degree felony cont of aggravated trafficking in drugs; and a fourth-degree felony count of receiving stolen property. Charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, burglary, murder, aggravated robbery and robbery were all dismissed as a part of a plea agreement, while a charge of involuntary manslaughter was amended to the complicity to involuntary manslaughter charge.
Meanwhile, Martin pleaded guilty in September to a first-degree felony count of complicity to involuntary manslaughter; two fourth-degree felony counts of trespass in a habitation; three fourth-degree felony counts of receiving stolen property; a fourth-degree felony count of grand theft of a motor vehicle; a first-degree felony count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity; a third-degree felony count of weapons under disability; and a third-degree felony count of robbery. Martin initially was charged with murder, which was amended to the involuntary manslaughter charge.