YORK COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Two young men were sent to prison over a marijuana deal that ended with the death of 23-year-old Mardarius Bailey in April.
York County deputies responded to the intersection of Highway 5 and Adnah Church Road on April 10, 2018 where Bailey was found in distress outside of a car. He later died from a gunshot wound that went through his arm and chest.
Deputies later arrested two 19-year-olds, Robert Outen and Tyler Montgomery, for his death. They appeared separately in York County court on Wednesday to plead guilty to crimes related to Bailey’s murder.
Robert Outen, 19, was facing up to 35-years in prison. Outen was charged with murder, possession of a weapon in commission of a violent crime and distributing marijuana.
He took a plea deal to reduce the murder charge to voluntary manslaughter and dismiss the distribution offense. The defense and prosecution negotiated for an 18-year sentence. After hearing the facts of the case and sentiments from the victim and defendant’s families, Judge Daniel Hall accepted the sentence.
Meanwhile, Montgomery who is now 20-years-old was also charged with murder, among other offenses. He took a plea deal that dismissed the murder charge. He pleaded guilty to attempted armed robbery, possession of a weapon in commission of a violent crime and accessory after the fact of voluntary manslaughter. The defense and prosecution agreed to a negotiated sentence of 9 years. Judge Hall also accepted the sentence recommendation after hearing from both parties.
Deputy Solicitor Willy Thompson said in court that Montgomery and Outen were living together with Montgomery’s mother on Adnah Church Road. They planned to meet Mardarius Bailey to sell him a quarter of a pound of marijuana.
Bailey, who is from Lancaster, was driven to York County by a friend. The four men met at the corner of Adnah Church Road and Windsong Lane.
Bailey was in the passenger seat of the car. Montgomery and Outen walked to the location and were standing outside of the car.
Thompson says the defendants asked Bailey and his friend to drive them to a nearby trailer park. Bailey told them they were not familiar with the area and would not give them a ride.
“At that time, Mr. Outen stepped around Mr. Montgomery drawing the pistol from his little white knapsack, pulling it on the victim. He said, according to his statement to police, that he thought the victim was reaching for something underneath the seat at that time. He fired one shot, that shot went through the victim’s arm going completely through and then went into his chest causing the fatal injury that killed him at that point,” Thompson said.
Bailey’s friend drove away from the scene and down Adnah Church Rd. When the driver got to the intersection of Highway 5, he stopped. A state trooper and other citizens saw Bailey in distress and stopped to help, but it was too late.
Thompson says Outen and Montgomery left the scene and made several attempts to conceal what had happened.
“They burned a lot of things in a burn barrel at the residence, including the marijuana. They took the gun that was used and tried to throw it off the bridge and into the Catawba River, off of 21. They went to the Fort Mill side of the river to throw it off. However, they did not realize that the river wasn’t as far up as they thought. It landed in the mud at the end of the river and ultimately law enforcement recovered it after Montgomery told them what they had done,” Thompson said.
He said they also went to Sports Clips to get haircuts in an attempt to change their looks so they wouldn’t be recognized.
Public defender Harry Dest told the court that Outen was under the influence of a pain killer. Dest said it was not justification for what was done, but did have an impact on his split second decision to pull the trigger.
“There’s nothing I could ever say and nothing I could ever do to make amends for the heartache that I’ve brought you all. The only thing I know to do now is to be honest and to take responsibility for what I’ve done. I pray fervently that God bring peace to your hearts, and I’m so sorry for what I’ve done to you,” Outen said to the victim’s family in court.
Mardarius Bailey leaves behind two young children, ages two and four. His family was in court and spoke on his behalf. His grandmother urged the defendants to use this as a lesson to others who deal with drugs.
“The time that you have, I’m asking you to use that time productively … I’m saying to you, friends that you know, families that you know that are still in the game. Use your voice, use this experience to talk to them, share with them the consequences. Don’t let my grandson go out like that. Use your voice so that somebody else won’t be standing, where we are standing today,” Bailey’s grandmother Dorothy Macklewayne said.
Neither of the defendants had a criminal history prior to these offenses. Outen graduated from Rock Hill High School where he played in the high school band. Montgomery went to Northwestern High School for freshman year, but later dropped out. The defense said he had been a carpenter and was doing electrical work for his father.
Solicitor Thompson says their situation is the tragic reality of what can happen during a drug deal, even with something as harmless as some believe marijuana is.
“Marijuana is just one component, but it seems to be the one they kill each other over. I don’t know if it’s because they take greater precautions when they use more dangerous drugs. But it seems to be what ends up killing people more so than any other drug and really any other thing in York County that is a catalyst to people being killed,” Thompson said.
Judge Daniel Hall called the situation a culmination of senseless acts but told Outen he still had time to make something of his life.
“History is full of individuals who commit senseless acts and become very purposeful, lead meaningful lives later on and I hope that’s what you’re able to do,” Hall said.
Outen will serve 18 years in prison. Montgomery will serve 9 years in prison.