Where are co-defendants now?
By Sarah Elmquist Squires
Brandon Monroe pled guilty Thursday to two counts of felony first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Jocelyn Watts and Rudy Perez in January 2019. Under the plea agreement, he’ll serve two consecutive life sentences.
The victims’ families first waited years for arrests, and then Monroe’s case was on hold awaiting a mental evaluation which ultimately found he was competent to face prosecution. After initially entering a not guilty by reason of mental illness plea in April, he gave up his right to that argument under the guilty plea deal last week. He is expected to be sentenced at a hearing within three months.
One of Monroe’s co-defendents, Korbin Headley, is again incarcerated after he allegedly violated the terms of his probation. He offered a no contest plea last December to accessory after the fact to felony murder and was sentenced to two to thee years in prison with the sentence suspended, and put on three years of probation. He allegedly violated that probation in May when he consumed alcohol, was in the company of a person consuming alcohol, and made contact with a victim’s family, all against the terms of his probation, according to court documents.
Monroe answered questions from his attorney Curtis Cheney on Thursday as part of his guilty plea, outlining the night that ended with the murders of Watts and Perez. “I was going to take some marijuana and some money,” Monroe said of traveling to the Perez and Watts home on January 3, 2019, to rob the victims.
Monroe admitted he brought a firearm to the home that night. “And during that robbery, did you fire the firearm which eventually killed a human being, Jocelyn Watts?” Cheney asked. “Yes, sir,” Monroe replied. “And did you also kill a human being, Rudy Perez?” “Yes, sir.”
Judge Jason Conder asked some follow up questions. “When I got into the room,” Monroe said of storming into Watts’ and Perez’s bedroom, “the dude, Rudy Perez, pulled a weapon on me, so I pulled mine.” He said he shot both Watts and Perez.
Meth, bleached bullets
According to affidavits filed in the murders, Monroe, who was 16 at the time, along with Headley, then 15, Bryce Teran, 24, and Patrick Sunrhodes, then 14, were drinking the night of the murders; Monroe snorted methamphetamine. Sunrhodes told investigators that Monroe brought out a firearm, was wearing gloves, and said he’d bleached the bullets so there would be no fingerprints. Monroe then allegedly said he had to “go take care of business,” loaded the gun and the party traveled to Riverton to a residence near City Park.
When they arrived at the home, Monroe allegedly forced the door open and went into the bedroom while Sunrhodes stayed in the living room/kitchen area. Sunrhodes reportedly told investigators that he heard gunshots and went into the bedroom to find a woman lying face down on the floor and Monroe straddling another male in the bedroom closet. Monroe allegedly shot him in the head, then picked up a shotgun from the closet floor. Police have not recovered either firearm.
Sunrhodes and Teran both pled no contest – Sunrhodes to amended information charges of aiding and abetting. Conditions for their plea agreements included providing testimony against Monroe, which has delayed their sentencing.