The Washington Times-Herald

March 4, 2014

Fourth person facing time in shooting

By Nate Smith Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald

---- — While known only to a few, there is a fourth person being prosecuted in the shooting of Devan Burris. This person is a 14-year-old boy.

Wyatt Byers, 2213 Oak Grove Road, is facing 90 days in the state Department of Corrections on charges in the aftermath of Burris’ death. He is being charged with obstruction of justice, a Class D felony. He is not being charged as an adult, but the charges would be the same if he were over 18.

Byers, in an interview with the Times Herald, said he was protecting a friend and did not know the gun was used in a death, otherwise he would have turned it over to Washington police. He also said he was going to call police before they entered the house with a “no-knock” warrant. Byers’ mother, along with the boy’s legal guardian, gave permission to the Times Herald to tell his story. Documents were also provided with the family’s permission.

On the night of Dec. 6, Evans shot his .410 shotgun during a fight between him, Lucas Benjamin and Devan Burris, 17, and another person. After the shooting, Benjamin and Evans left the parking lot of the Ebenezer Baptist Church and went to Byers’ house across the street. Burris, who had a shotgun wound, left and was taken to Daviess Community Hospital where he later died. Byers’ mother, Christal, was calling 911 at the time. Byers told police and the Times Herald he heard some thumps and then the shot.

Byers’ brother opened the back door and Benjamin and Evans came in. According to accounts by Byers and police records, Evans gave him the gun and asked him to hide it. Byers said he “instinctively” hid the shotgun above a ceiling tile. After the two left, he left the house, came back and said he went back to sleep.

“I had no idea what had happened,” Byers said. “I had no idea anybody had been shot, anything about all that. (Evans) was just freaking out and told me to put his gun up for him. I didn’t think nothing of it.”

During the time Byers was away, Washington police executed a search warrant for the house on Dec. 8 and did not find the gun. He came home after and then went to sleep. No one else in the home knew, according to police accounts, the gun was there.

“After I left and what-not, I found out Devan had been (shot),” Byers said. “I still didn’t know if it was Logan or not.”

Police executed a “no-knock” warrant at the house a second time at 7:25 p.m. and found the gun sitting in the ceiling. Byers and his legal guardian were taken into custody and questioned. He told police Evans carried the shotgun with him from time to time and would fire it into the air. He believed before that is what happened that night and thought about calling the police after getting out of the shower, but the police entered the house first.

Evans, 18, and Benjamin, 19, pleaded guilty in Daviess Superior Court last week. Evans pleaded guilty to murder, but maintains he did not mean to shoot Burris or kill him. Benjamin has pleaded guilty to attempted dealing in methamphetamine and assisting a criminal. If the plea deals are accepted at sentencing later this month, Evans will face 45 years and Benjamin will face 30 years. A third person, Heaven Berry, was charged with providing assistance to another who committed the crime of murder and is presently awaiting trial.

Byers, who has been in trouble before, was ordered to appear in Daviess Juvenile Court on Feb. 6 on a petition alleging delinquency and has another hearing on March 13. He told the Times Herald he is scared about what will happen next.

“I really don’t know what I’m supposed to do,” Byers said. “There’s not much I can do.”

He believes Evans, his friend he has known since he was 5 years old, is being vilified since the shooting. Byers says Evans did not deal drugs.

“Everyone has portrayed him as this drug-dealing murderer but he wasn’t that,” Byers said. “Logan always, at all costs, avoided a fight. It doesn’t matter who it was, he always got along with them.

“He was the one driving the car. I talked to him about it and he said the only reason he was there was his friend (Benjamin) was scared.”

According to records obtained, Burris asked Benjamin to meet him alone to purchase a gram of methamphetamine. They told investigators that Burris had tried to steal from them in the past. Witness interviews said Burris and another person were planning to do that again. As to why he believed Evans and Benjamin were there in the first place, even though they knew about the risk?

“Money,” Byers shrugged.