Man sentenced to life in prison for 2013 'execution' of Gulfport - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Man sentenced to life in prison for 2013 'execution' of Gulfport teen

Josh Xavier Cuellar (Photo source: Cuellar family) Josh Xavier Cuellar (Photo source: Cuellar family)
Sellers Johnson (Photo source: District Attorney's Office) Sellers Johnson (Photo source: District Attorney's Office)
Damon Clark (Photo source: District Attorney's Office) Damon Clark (Photo source: District Attorney's Office)
Earnest Pope (Photo source: District Attorney's Office) Earnest Pope (Photo source: District Attorney's Office)
Deundre Holmes (Photo source: District Attorney's Office) Deundre Holmes (Photo source: District Attorney's Office)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

Four men involved in the capital murder of a Gulfport teen in 2013 have been sentenced to prison.

Sellers Johnson was 17 years old, and Damon Clark, Earnest Pope, and Deundre Holmes were all 15 years old when Joshua “Xa” Cuellar was shot seven times on Oct. 22, 2013.

According to testimony from law enforcement and the co-defendants during the trial, Cuellar picked up Johnson, Clark, Pope and Holmes that day to give them a ride to the Lowe’s Home Improvement store off Hwy. 49.

When the teens were getting out of the truck, Johnson pulled a gun on Cuellar and attempted to rob him. That’s when the incident turned deadly.

“When Cuellar fought back, Johnson slammed the victim to the ground and physically assaulted him. Once the fighting ended, Johnson went and got the gun and walked back to Cuellar and shot him seven times,” said Assistant District Attorney Crosby Parker.

Parker said surveillance video from a nearby business showed Clark, Pope, and Holmes ran from the scene when the shots rang out.

“The evidence from the forensic pathologist, as well as the location of the gunshot wounds, showed that this wasn’t just a brutal, senseless killing; it was an execution,” said Parker.

Johnson, now 20, pleaded guilty to capital murder, Clark pleaded guilty to second degree murder, and Pope and Holmes both pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to capital murder.

Judge Chris Schmidt sentenced Johnson to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Clark was sentenced to 40 years, with 15 years suspended. Pope was sentenced to 20 years in prison, and Holmes was sentenced to 20 years, with 10 years suspended.

“Any time our community loses someone at the hands of a violent criminal there is loss, and for that there must be punishment. But when we lose a son or a daughter at the hands another juvenile, it is a shocking tragedy. We will continue to aggressively prosecute violent criminals and are hopeful that the sentences handed down today can assist the Cuellar family in the healing process,” said Parker.

Copyright 2016 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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