Teen accused of shooting little brother may be in court days after funeral

Zaylan Sparkman
Zaylan Sparkman Courtesy Hartwell Mortuary

A 16-year-old accused of fatally shooting his younger brother as the child played video games is expected to have a preliminary hearing next week.

Albert Deonte Craft III faces a manslaughter charge in the death of 6-year-old Zaylan Sparkman. The child was shot at their home on Sabine Street in a quiet neighborhood southwest of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

Craft is being held at the Harrison County jail pending court action.

He will likely be brought before a justice court judge next Wednesday for a preliminary hearing in the jail courtroom, Harrison County prosecuting attorney Herman Cox said. If Craft’s attorney wants a delay, the hearing would likely be the following Wednesday, Aug. 23.

Zaylan would have started the first grade this week.

Harrison County School District spokeswoman Trang Pham-Bui said she heard Zaylan had transferred to Lyman Elementary School from Gaston Point Elementary in the last three months of the previous school year.

Classes started on Tuesday. Counselors are available at Lyman in case students need to talk, she said.

Zaylan attended St. James Baptist Church with his paternal grandmother, their pastor has said.

Zaylan’s funeral is set for Saturday at Olivet Baptist Church on Klein Road.

Statements from Craft and a witness indicate he tried to scare Zaylan as the child sat on top of a washing machine and played video games on a phone. Craft admitted he pointed a .38-caliber gun at Zaylan, and believed there were two bullets in the gun but they weren’t near the hammer.

Police say Craft told them he pulled the trigger once and it didn’t go off, and he pulled the trigger again and the gun fired.

Police body cameras recorded Craft admitting he had just killed his brother, an affidavit says.

Police Chief Leonard Papania has said Craft had illegally obtained a handgun and used it to shoot his brother. Police recovered the gun from the home.

Craft’s bond is $100,000.

SunHerald staff writer Anita Lee contributed to this report.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews