On Aug. 18, 2019, three members of a Durham gang drove up on an SUV and two opened fire, thinking it was occupied by rival gang members.
Instead, the SUV was driven by Danyell Ragland, who was taking her three children, along with her niece and nephew, to Pelican's Snoballs on the hot August evening.
Five bullets hit the SUV, and two went in the passenger side back-seat window. Two children were struck, including Ragland's nephew, 9-year-old Z'Yon Person who died the next day. The other child survived.
This week, the three men convicted of federal crimes in Z'Yon's murder were sentenced in federal court in Greensboro, closing a chapter of violence that shook the city of Durham over three years ago.
About a dozen of Z'Yon's family members and friends attended, most wearing T-shirts with his name and the words "Justice for Z'Yon" on them.
What prosecutors said happened
Prosecutors said Antonio Nathaniel Davenport Jr. , Derrick Lamont Dixon and Dival Magwood were members of the Braggtown-based Northside Eight Trey Gangster Crips.
In August 2019, they were seeking revenge after Davenport, also known as former 83 Babies rapper "Lil Tony," had been jumped days earlier at The Streets at Southpoint mall.
Davenport was driving his maroon Honda Accord. Magwood was in the front passenger seat, and Dixon was in the back.
Davenport and Dixon fired upon the SUV at the intersection of Leon and North Duke streets around 8:30 p.m. Magwood testified he also would have fired but could not get off a shot from his location in the car.
According to court testimony, the bullet that killed Z'Yon likely came from Dixon's gun.
Antonio "Lil Tony" Davenport
In July, a jury found Davenport, 27, guilty of three federal murder, gun and racketeering charges tied to Z'Yon's killing.
During Davenport's sentencing Tuesday, he had to be removed from the courtroom as he cursed at a prosecutor and said he didn't commit a crime.
Assistant U.S. Attorney JoAnna McFadden said Davenport lived a life of carrying and brandishing guns, selling drugs and shooting at rivals. It was a life he rapped about. Just days before the killing, Davenport's group 83 Babies had signed a contract with Atlantic Records, according to court records.
During Davenport's sentencing, prosecutors revealed evidence, including confirmation from one of his co-defendants, that Davenport shot a 14-year-old in January 2019 after seeing a gang rival and initiating a shoot out in a Cook Out restaurant drive through.
U.S. Middle District of North Carolina Judge William Osteen sentenced Davenport to two life sentences to run concurrently, plus a consecutive 10-year-sentence.
Derrick Lamont Dixon
Dixon, 27, and Magwood, 24, pleaded guilty to similar charges under deals with prosecutors before Davenport's trial.
Dixon pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in acts of racketeering and commission of a violent crime that is murder in aid of racketeering.
Before his sentencing on Tuesday, Dixon apologized to Z'Yon's family, though he said he knows they probably won't forgive him.
Osteen sentenced Dixon to two life sentences to run concurrently, along with 10 years for a federal gun charge that will also run concurrent with the life sentences.
Magwood was the third and final defendant to be sentenced. He also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in acts of racketeering and commission of a violent crime that is murder in aid of racketeering.
Magwood testified at Davenport's trial that Davenport and Dixon shot up the SUV. He said he would have too but couldn't get a good shot in the front passenger side seat.
Ashley Ragland, Z'Yon's mother, testified Tuesday that Magwood should still get a life sentence.
But Osteen said Magwood's actions and cooperation in the case complicated his decision. Magwood cooperated with prosecutors and police, educating the jury and others during Davenport's trial on gang life and his misdeeds as a Crips "demon," the title for shooters.
Magwood's actions have put him in danger, defense attorney Darrin Jordan noted, as the gang considers cooperating with police an action that is punishable by death.
The judge explained he considered factors such as the seriousness of the offense, general deterrence, the safety of the public and the history and characteristics of the defendant.
During the sentencing hearing, Magwood read a letter to the court, apologizing for his part in the killing. He said he would spend his life trying to gain Z'Yon's family's forgiveness.
Osteen sentenced Magwood to two concurrent sentences of 23 years in prison. The sentence was reduced to 22 years after Magwood was given credit for serving 19 months on a previous federal possession of a firearm by a felon conviction.
After Magwood gets out, he will serve five years of probation.
What happens next?
While most of Tuesday and Wednesday were spent determining the appropriate sentences, Osteen and others also focused on how to save Durham from a culture of violence.
Osteen asked Z'Yon's mother and aunt what actions he could take to keep other little boys from joining gangs and picking up guns.
"I am not going to let Z'Yon Person die in vain," Osteen said.
The next day, as Osteen weighed Magwood's sentence, he asked what he could do as judge to deter the culture of violence that witnesses said is thriving in Durham. He asked how his decision might affect others who might consider cooperating with law enforcement.
"We want to send a message," he said.
Magwood said it would takes steps, such as him coming forward and saying "the things we're doing wasn't right."
After his sentencing Wednesday, Ashley Ragland thanked Magwood for his cooperation, but said while he will be able to build a life after prison, she will never see Z'Yon again.
Over three years after the shooting, she remains numb.
"I am still devastated," she said.
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