The Journal Gazette
Friday, May 22, 2020 1:00 am

Armed robbery plot allegedly preceded slaying

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

The plan all along was to rob Jaden Nelson. 

Ronnie Miles Jr., 19, of the 4800 block of Warsaw Street, now in the Allen County Jail on charges including Nelson's killing, was going to grab the bag of marijuana while his friend “Zay” held a gun on Nelson. 

Around 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Miles allegedly shot Nelson as Nelson was in the driver's seat of a passenger car with his pregnant girlfriend in the front seat, according to charging documents written by Fort Wayne police detective Lucas MacDonald. Nelson was shot once in the torso, a wound that caused his death, according to Dr. Brent Harshburger who performed the autopsy for the Allen County Coroner's Office. 

Nelson's death is the 15th homicide of the year in Allen County, but the third in a row to be solved within hours. The solvability rate for Fort Wayne homicides is at 92%, according to the head of homicide, Sgt. Timothy Hughes. 

Nelson was wounded when he arrived at a gas station at South Calhoun Street and East Pettit Avenue. Police found him lying outside the car as his girlfriend tried to render aid. Nelson's parents, James Nelson and Rikki Bear, said Wednesday that the girlfriend put pressure on the wound. 

Police determined the shooting had taken place a few blocks away at Avondale Drive and East Pettit Avenue. On Nelson's cellphone, homicide detectives discovered a Facebook messenger conversation between Nelson and someone named “Yeahh Deezy” discussing a marijuana transaction. “Yeahh Deezy” turned out to be Miles, court documents said. 

In that conversation about 3:20 p.m. that day, Miles gave Nelson an unidentified address and asked Nelson to come by with narcotics, court records said. At 3:47 p.m., Nelson messaged his girlfriend to weigh some marijuana and pick him up at work during his break. Nelson's parents said Nelson worked at Kroger at Southgate Plaza. 

Nelson and his girlfriend arrived at the address, but it was another family and not Miles and “Zay,” the girlfriend told detectives. Then, from “out of nowhere,” the two came up to Nelson, who was driving, court records said. 

When Nelson showed them the bag of marijuana, they exclaimed “You hot! You hot!” as if Nelson was acting suspiciously. Then they climbed into the back seat and Miles pulled out a gun, the girlfriend told police. Miles cocked the gun and said “I'm going to need that. If you don't give it to me, I'm going to shoot you! I'm going to shoot you!” 

Nelson drove off with Miles and “Zay” still in the back seat, but Miles jumped out of the car and a struggle ensued over the gun. The girlfriend said she heard one shot, court documents said. 

Miles told police that “Zay” fired several shots at Nelson's car because Nelson had a gun. Miles said “Zay” brought a smaller caliber black gun and the plan was for “Zay” to put the gun on Nelson while Miles grabbed the marijuana. 

When detective Scott Studebaker showed the girlfriend a photo array, she decisively pinpointed Miles as the one who shot her boyfriend. 

As a police officer took Miles to the Allen County Lockup, Miles told the officer he wasn't feeling well so the officer transported him to St. Joseph Hospital, court documents said. During the escort, while the officer entered a code to gain entrance to the hospital, the handcuffed Miles fled on foot. He made it a short distance before being captured, court documents said. 

The identity of the other alleged robber has not been released because he is 16 and considered a minor. He was charged with robbery and felony murder, police said Wednesday. He could be charged as an adult.

Miles is facing two charges of murder and robbery resulting in serious bodily injury with misdemeanor resisting law enforcement. 

His next court hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

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