Christopher Sumlin and three co-defendants were indicted for the January 2021 murder of 88-year-old Bobby Kicklighter of Glennville.
Sumlin, Keisha Jones, Aerial Murphy, and Nathan Weekes conspired to kill a correctional officer from Smith State Prison on the night of January 30, 2021.
These individuals believed Kicklighter’s house to be the home of the correctional officer, who previously lived one house down from Kicklighter.
Weekes was in prison at the time of this murder, but conspired with Sumlin, Jones, and Murphy through text messages.
The relationship between these individuals stems from Sumlin and Weekes, who were inmates at Smith State Prison up until Sumlin was released on parole in October 2020.
Weekes chose his girlfriend, Jones, to carry out this murder with Sumlin, who was out of prison. Jones also got Murphy, her roommate at the time, involved.
Sumlin was indicted on one count of Malice Murder, three counts of Felony Murder, one count of Burglary in the First Degree, one count of Aggravated Assault, one count of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, one count of Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, Conspiracy to Commit Murder, and Conspiracy to Violate the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (Georgia RICO Act).
Weekes, Murphy, and Jones were all indicted on one count of Malice Murder, three counts of Felony Murder, one count of Burglary in the First Degree, one count of Aggravated Assault, one count of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, and Conspiracy to Commit Murder.
Jones and Weekes were also charged, like Sumlin, with one count of Conspiracy to Violate the Georgia RICO Act.
Jones and Murphy, like Sumlin, were charged with one count of Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony.
Sumlin was charged with a total of ten felony counts. Weekes and Jones were charged with nine felonies, and Murphy was charged with eight felonies.
On Wednesday, April 27, 2022, Jones, 36, requested a bond reduction to $100,000, but it was denied and remains at $750,000 bond and $1.5 million property bond.
The enterprise: Yves Saint Laurent Squad
The Georgia RICO Act is violated if one or more of the acts that form the pattern resulted in the defendant acquiring or maintaining control of any enterprise, real property, or personal property (including money), or the defendant was employed by or associated with an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering.
Weekes, known as “Kash” or “Da President,” was the president of the Yves Saint Laurent Squad, a group with the common purpose of profiting from the smuggling of contraband into Smith State Prison and using violence to further and protect the enterprise’s activities, according to the Bill of Indictment.
Yves Saint Laurent Squad bought and sold the following contraband:
• Cell phones
• Narcotics (specifically, but not limited to: marijuana and methamphetamine)
• Brand-name clothing items
Once the contraband is smuggled inside the prison, the squad uses these items for its own purposes and sells them to other inmates for a profit. The squad utilizes Cash App, Western Union, cryptocurrency, and United States currency to purchase contraband, bribe guards, and finance murder, among other crimes of violence to protect and further the enterprise.
Weekes calls Smith State Prison “Yves Saint Laurent Prison” and claims that it is his prison, according to the Bill of Indictment. He was able to operate this enterprise and orchestrate crimes of violence all while incarcerated in Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) custody.
Weekes was committed to the GDC in February 2012 for a series of armed robberies he committed with two co-defendants in DeKalb County in December 2010. Since his commitment in 2012, Weekes has been housed in several different GDC prisons. He was moved to Smith State Prison in March 2019.
Weekes smuggled contraband into Smith State Prison with the assistance of other inmates, girlfriends, prison guards, and civilians. He also committed many acts of racketeering, including threats of violence towards GDC employees.
There are still some of his co-conspirators who are unknown to law enforcement and the grand jury as of April 25, 2022.
Not all inmates involved in Yves Saint Laurent Squad are known to law enforcement of the grand jury as of April 25, but the following persons are recognized as having the following titles:
•Nathan Weekes: “The President” or “Da President”
•Devio Waller: “Vice President
•Martin Holmes: “Mayor”
Named squad members
Law enforcement agencies are still investigating the potentially corrupt staff connected to the Yves Saint Laurent Squad. Those staff members who have been identified for being involved in this enterprise have either been criminally charged, terminated from GDC employment, or both.
Jessica Gerling is a former employee of Smith State Prison who was involved in the Yves Saint Laurent Squad.
Gerling is also known as “The Queen,” “Star,” and “First Lady,” according to the indictment. Gerling was a Smith State correctional officer from February 2020 to June 26, 2020.
Gerling was terminated by GDC for bringing in contraband at the direction of Weekes. She also recruited other civilians to bring contraband into Smith State. She was charged by GDC Criminal Investigations Division (CID) with contraband related charges, but she was murdered by being shot with a firearm before the charges could be adjudicated.
Gerling committed overt acts of racketeering activity, including aiding Weekes and Sumlin in the January 13, 2021, malice murder of Jerry Lee Davis of Wayne County.
Ireon Moore was employed at Smith State Prison as a correctional officer from March 2020 until she was terminated in April 2021 for bringing in contraband from Yves Saint Laurent Squad. Moore was criminally charged by GDC with pending contraband related charges. Further, Weekes and Waller (“Vice President”) conspired to bribe Moore into bringing $29,000 in United States currency inside Smith State Prison to be used to bribe guards.
Jones is also a former Smith State Prison employee, who resigned while under investigation by GDC CID in 2012. Jones has been involved with smuggling contraband and acts of violence within the Yves Saint Laurent Squad, as listed above.
Sumlin was committed to GDC in April 2014 by the Superior Court of Coweta County for the July 2013 crimes of burglary in the first degree (two counts), and he was sentenced to eight years in prison with twelve years of parole.
Sumlin was transferred to Smith State Prison in 2016 and was housed there until he was granted parole in October 2020. He shared housing with Weekes while they were at Smith State Prison.
Weekes and Sumlin also committed an assault on another Smith State Prison employee on March 31, 2021. This employee was shot at with a firearm.
The threat of contraband
Smith State Prison, located on Highway 301 in Glennville, is a “close security” prison for males who are serving prison sentences in the State of Georgia. These “close security” inmates are generally confined to their housing buildings. Inmates are permitted freedom of movement, with staff supervision, for certain programs such as work detail, outdoor time, and commissary privileges, according to the bill of indictment.
Inmates are also granted phone and email access through a GDC-controlled system, the indictment reads. These systems are monitored by the GDC staff, a fact known to both inmates and the individuals on the other end of the email or phone call. These communications are monitored and recorded by GDC for appropriate purposes. As a result of this monitoring, inmates avoid conducting any conversations relating to criminal activities on the monitored communication systems.
Georgia law prohibited inmates from possessing contraband items, the indictment reads. Contraband cell phones provide the means for inmates to have conversations without being monitored by GDC staff. Cell phones are highly valued contraband items within the prison system, because they provide a means to communicate with people outside the prison to coordinate the smuggling of items, plan prison escapes, arrange a murder for hire, or intimidate witnesses.
The GDC considers the presence of contraband cell phones to be the single most persistent problem within the prison system, according to the indictment. This is highlighted by the high price inmates are willing to pay to have cell phones smuggled into the prison system.
In some circumstances, inmates also use these contraband cell phones to talk with corrupt GDC staff, whom the inmates have cajoled, bribed, or intimidated, to facilitate the snuggling of additional contraband into the prison system.
The GDC has over 7,000 employees who are collectively responsible for the management of 58 correctional facilities and over 45,000 inmates.