A Lithonia man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for participating in a home invasion in Peachtree City in July 2012 that resulted in the homeowner being shot in the head as she attempted to run away.
Gilbert Jerome Jefferson, 29, pled guilty to armed robbery, with several other charges dropped in exchange for his truthful testimony against his cousin, Ted Jefferson, 29, of Snellville, who is also charged in the case. A third co-defendant, Christopher Falkner, 28, of Peachtree City, was sentenced to 10 years on probation late last year.
Jefferson’s plea came as the trial was expected to resume Thursday, as the jury on Wednesday had heard the audio recording of a lengthy interview he gave to Police Det. Heather Jones at the Fayette County Jail following his arrest.
Following the incident, a witness told The Citizen that three men entered the home and demanded money, holding him at gunpoint. The witness said one of the men shot homeowner Ceresa Coffee as she tried to escape to get help.
Coffee was hit in the head by one or more shotgun pellets as she ran into the yard, police said.
Jefferson is expected to testify in the upcoming trial against his cousin Ted Jefferson, who was also arrested in the case by Peachtree City police.
Det. Jones noted that after Gilbert Jefferson was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force, while on the way back to Peachtree City he pointed at the QuickTrip gas station in Fairburn and noted that he, Ted Jefferson and Falkner had stopped their on the way to Coffee’s house.
Gilbert Jefferson contended, however, that he was told by Ted Jefferson that they were going to Peachtree City to purchase marijuana, he said in the interview.
Jefferson admitted to wearing a head covering as he entered the home, but he contended that he was told nobody was supposed to be home. Jefferson said Falkner hatched the plot for a burglary, but he was unaware of it until they got to Peachtree City.
Also in that police interview, Gilbert Jefferson contended that he never put his hands on the gun during the incident.
After the three made their way from the scene immediately following the shooting, eluding police, Gilbert Jefferson told Det. Jones that he prayed for Coffee “because I felt so bad. It wasn’t right.”
Gilbert Jefferson said he only saw Falkner carrying the gun. He also said that Falkner was “rough” on Coffee when forcing her to move to another room in the house.
“She was so fearless,” Jefferson recalled. “I felt so wrong just being in there, being there. I thought he had hurt that lady. We just left the house, dropped Chris off and we left and went home.”
Jones also testified about two cellphones located along Ga. Highway 74 north near Dogwood Church that were connected as evidence in the case.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Ben Thomsen and Gilbert Jefferson was represented by Conflict Public Defender Harry Charles.