Four Charged in Murder-for-Hire Plot

By Linda Cicoira — Four people were charged last weekend with planning a murder and attempting to carry out the for-hire scheme to kill a witness who testified in a drug trial in Northampton Circuit Court in October.

The charges and arrests were made in Accomack. The victim, Nathaniel Johnson, 31, was wounded in a shooting at a Linhaven Circle home in Painter, on Halloween night. He testified in the cocaine distribution trial of Akeem Rogers, 26, of Benjamin Banneker Street, in Exmore, on Oct. 24. Rogers was convicted. A 19-year-old woman, who has not been identified, was also injured in the shooting. 

Since then, both have been released from the local hospital, Sheriff Todd Godwin said this week. More charges are pending, he added.

One of the suspects, Aaron Jamarcus Bowens, 22, who lives on nearby A.S. Road in Painter, was referred to in open court by Northampton Commonwealth’s Attorney Bruce Jones, as the “widely” suspected killer in another case. 

He was speaking of the death of Terrell (Juice) Devone Mason, a 26-year-old father of eight, who was gunned down in 2015. Mason was killed through the window of a shed, where neighborhood family and friends gathered to play cards in Exmore. No arrests have been made in the case.

Bowens was also involved in an incident at the former Sage Restaurant after that. He was hit in the leg by gunfire, which was followed by a high-speed police chase. The unemployed Eastern Shore Community College student is being held without bond in Accomack Jail.He was arrested Nov. 10, and charged with attempting to commit capital murder-for-hire.

Evron Terrell Strand, 43, of Deer Drive in Nelsonia, was also charged in the murder scheme. He is being held in the Eastern Shore Regional Jail in Eastville without bond. Strand’s record includes convictions for forgery, possession with intent to distribute drugs, eluding and protective order violations. He’s been unemployed for four months, according to court records.

Roquan Rogers, 19, of Benjamin Banneker Street in Exmore, is also in the Eastville facility. He, too, is suspected of attempted murder-for-hire and is being held without bond.

Cynthia Harmon, 51, of Dennis Drive in Parksley, was arrested and charged with being an accessory before the fact with premeditation to kill Johnson. The woman was listed as being unemployed and receiving disability. She has no prior convictions and is being held in Accomack Jail.

It was not clear from police reports how DeBrandon Pierre Harmon, 29, of Dennis Drive in Parksley, is connected to Cynthia Harmon or the others. However, his arrest was noted in the statement released by Godwin. Harmon was charged with possession with the intent to manufacture, sell, give or distribute a controlled substance and possession of a firearm while possessing more than a pound of marijuana.

Investigator C.A. McPherson of the Accomack County Sheriff’s Office investigated the murder scheme. Deputy Glen Bailey worked the case involving Debrandon Harmon, who is a poultry plant worker.

According to Godwin, his criminal investigations unit, the Eastern Shore Drug Task Force, the Virginia State Police Drug Enforcement Section and the Drug Enforcement Administration-Norfolk Resident Office worked collaboratively on the case.

“Multiple arrest warrants and search warrants were executed during the course of the investigation” by those agencies with the assistance of the state police Division One and Division Five TAC Teams, Exmore Police Department, Northampton County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police Bureau of Field Operations and General Investigations Section. Eleven ounces of cocaine, three firearms and $1,785 were seized in addition to multiple cell phones and assorted documents.