A second defendant was convicted last week in the June 23, 2019 shooting death of 27-year-old school teacher Fredrick McCray Jr. of Clayton.
Sedrick Tennessee, 42, was found guilty of second degree murder by a Concordia Parish jury shortly before 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17, following 17 minutes of deliberations.
The jury included nine women and three men.
In November, a jury found 49-year-old Jimmie O’Neal Lewis guilty of first degree murder in the case. During two confessions to police, Lewis testified that he was the shooter.
In both trials, the jury’s guilty verdicts were unanimous.
Judge John Reeves sentenced Lewis to life without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.
District Attorney Brad Burget said Monday that Tennessee will be sentenced in January.
Burget and 1st Assistant District Attorney Joey Boothe prosecuted the case. They published 226 exhibits during the Tennessee trial, compared to 221 during the trial of Lewis.
Tennessee is represented by attorney Kevin Johnson of Monroe. Johnson called no defense witnesses and during his closing statement attacked Lewis’ credibility.
Lewis, who did not testify in his trial in November, testified during the trial of Tennessee.
According to testimony provided by the prosecution during the trials of both Lewis and Tennessee, McCray, a school teacher, had attended a Mardi Gras crew fundraiser in Ferriday with his younger sister on June 22. He later drove her home to their mother’s house in Clayton around 1 a.m. on June 23 and then drove to Natchez before texting his mother at 3:30 a.m. that he was on his way home.
But he never arrived.
McCray’s mother, Carol Williams, and the family searched for McCray and notified law enforcement that he was missing. The family recovered McCray’s cell on June 23 at 7:50 p.m. at the corner of Hwy 15 and Hwy. 3232.
After an examination of the phone, Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office (CPSO) investigators determined that several recent notifications had been sent alerting McCray about fraudulent purchases made on his account at Walmart in Natchez.
With the assistance of Natchez police, CPSO determined that Ronald Riley of Natchez had used McCray’s credit cards to make purchases. Riley told police that at 6 a.m. June 23 he was at his girlfriend’s apartments in Natchez when Sedrick Tennessee knocked on the door.
Tennessee’s clothing was wet. Riley gave him dry clothes to wear.
Later, while smoking pot outside a Natchez convenience story, Zippy’s, Tennessee made a phone call on Riley’s phone. Riley heard Tennessee say a body was located at a place he identified by saying the letter: “M.”
Police later discovered McCray’s body, which had been thrown into a deep gully and covered with debris, wood and trash. The location was near Will’s Place and next to an abandoned building near Bayou Levee Road in Ferriday.
McCray had been shot once behind the head above the right ear, the bullet exiting his left jaw in an execution style shooting.
Law enforcement was able to connect Tennessee to Jimmie Lewis. When deputies spotted Lewis in Ferriday, he fled, but they soon apprehended him.
During questioning, Lewis, in an emotional statement, admitted that he and Tennessee were carrying out a robbery plan when he shot McCray. He said they had flagged McCray down as he drove by and asked him for a ride to Clayton. As they drove along, Lewis asked McCray to stop the vehicle—a 2012 black Audi SUV – so that Lewis could urinate.
When McCray stopped the vehicle, Lewis, who was sitting in the rear passenger seat, pulled out a .40 caliber Glock pistol and demanded McCray’s money. McCray, however, began to fight with Tennessee who was sitting on the passenger side of the front seat. Lewis told McCray twice to stop. When he didn’t, Lewis pointed the gun in the rear of McCray’s head and pulled the trigger.
Burget pointed out that McCray was killed during the commission of an armed robbery and that although Tennessee was not the shooter, the commission of an armed robbery resulting in death constitutes murder.
After the shooting, Lewis and Tennessee disposed of the body. Lewis then left on foot with the murder weapon, which was later recovered.
Tennessee departed Ferriday in McCray’s Audi, disposed of McCray’s cell phone and then went to Natchez where he went to visit with Ronald Riley. A camera system at the apartment complex shows McCray’s Audi being parked and shows Tennessee going around the apartment building before locating Riley.
After Tennessee and Riley smoked pot and after Riley heard Tennessee tell someone on the phone that a body had been placed at “M,” the two rode around Natchez. Tennessee pulled into a neighborhood near Stine’s on U.S. 61 South and disposed of McCray’s personalize license plate, which said, “Big Daddy.”
From there, they pulled into a nearby car wash. There, Riley saw fresh blood when Tennessee opened the console for change for the car wash. Riley testified that he had found McCray’s wallet in the passenger side door of the Audi. Riley said he took a credit card from the wallet and used it at the Walmart in Natchez.
Security cameras show Riley then waving goodbye to Tennessee and walking north on U.S. 61, where he caught a ride to Walmart and used McCray’s stolen credit cards.
Tennessee then drove south to Gretna, where he was later captured by police.
During his testimony, Lewis confirmed the information given during the testimony of Ronald Riley as being accurate.
In a statement Tennessee gave police, he said he fled the scene and went to Gretna because he was afraid of Jimmie Lewis.
Burget said he appreciated the work of the jury and also thanked the McCray family for their help during the case.
“They handled themselves with dignity and class,” he said. “They are a great family suffering through a terrible tragedy over the death of Mr. Fredrick McCray Jr., who was a great guy.”
McCray had two bachelor’s degrees as well as two master’s degrees, one in Biblical Psychology and one in Organization Leadership.