GREENSBORO — Attorneys in a plea deal Monday afternoon agreed on little except that a 16-year-old girl didn’t deserve to die over $125 worth of marijuana.
Superior Court Judge Eric Morgan sentenced Channay Erika Morehead to a minimum of 5 years and 10 months in prison, with credit for 125 days, after she pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to first-degree murder.
The shooting of Sateria “Zoe” Fleming, a Western Guilford High School student, led to an officer-involved shooting on Battleground Avenue, an emotional judge and national attention.
“This is a horrifically tragic circumstance where a young life was snuffed out,” said Prosecutor Steve Cole. “A young girl was shot down.”
Fleming and Morehead met on March 26, 2018, when Morehead agreed to sell the 16-year-old and her best friend $125 worth of marijuana.
The high school girls planned to take the drug and run without paying.
But when they started to run, Morehead’s co-defendant, Hajji Dequan Johnson, fired two shots at them, striking Fleming in the head.
Investigators quickly learned the girls were buying drugs from Morehead and attempted to stop her vehicle at the Starbucks at Battleground Avenue and Edney Ridge Road. Two men in her vehicle, including Johnson, ran from police. The chase ended with one of the men, Courtney Baskins, getting shot while struggling with an officer. He was not seriously injured and was not charged in the Fleming’s killing.
Initially, charged with first-degree murder, Morehead told police various stories to prove her innocence before explaining that Johnson had pulled the trigger during a drug deal.
When the shooting happened, Morehead was on the phone with her ex-boyfriend, an inmate at the Guilford County jail. The phone call was automatically recorded at the jail and corroborated Morehead’s story, leading to Johnson’s charges.
During Johnson’s own plea deal earlier this year, his attorney told Judge Lora Cubbage that Morehead ordered him to shoot the girls. That led to an emotional outburst from Cubbage.
“Don’t you tell me another black life matters if it doesn’t matter to you,” Cubbage shouted.
Morehead’s attorney Jason Keith pointed out the audio doesn’t corroborate Johnson’s story and the only thing his client should be charged for is helping Johnson get rid of the gun after the shooting.
Morehead testified Monday that she didn’t initially tell police what had happened because she took her 4-year-old son to the drug deal and she didn’t want him taken away.
Keith handed the judge a packet of information about Morehead’s clean record, her charity work and letters of recommendation from various people in her life including attorneys, professors and employers.
The letters talked about what a good mother she is and how much she cares for her child and the community.
“I apologize to the family,” Morehead said in court Monday. “You may not believe that, but I’m being sincere.”
Fleming’s father, Forrest Fleming, didn’t want to hear it.
He told Morgan that Morehead “left his daughter there to die” but then testified that she went to Golden Corral the next day with her friends “like nothing happened.”
“She showed no sign of remorse,” Forrest Fleming said. “Of course she’s showing remorse today while she’s being sentenced.”
He added that a loving mother wouldn’t take her son to a drug deal.