Crime

He fatally shot his brother, cops say. But it’s not the teen’s first brush with the law.

Albert Deonta Craft III
Albert Deonta Craft III

A 16-year-old Gulfport resident accused in the fatal shooting of his 6-year-old brother was convicted in a robbery earlier this year.

Albert Deonta Craft, being charged as an adult in a manslaughter case, was convicted of robbery earlier this year in Harrison County Youth Court. Craft listed the conviction on a document to request a court-appointed attorney for the manslaughter charge.

Craft had not previously been identified in connection with a robbery because he is a juvenile. He is being prosecuted as an adult in the manslaughter case.

Craft is accused of shooting Zaylan Sparkman on Aug. 4 while the child sat on top of a washing machine and played video games at their home on Sabine Street.

Two police officers’ body cameras recorded Craft at the scene saying, “Momma, I just killed him,” a police affidavit says. Craft was trying to scare his brother and had pointed a handgun at him.

Police said Craft told them he knew there were two bullets in the gun, but he didn’t think they were near the hammer. He pulled the trigger once and the gun didn’t fire, but when he pulled the trigger again a bullet struck Zaylan in the stomach.

Craft was scheduled for a preliminary hearing at the county jail courtroom Wednesday. He waived his right to a hearing on the advice of his attorney, James Thompson.

Justice Court Judge Bruce Strong said he will send the manslaughter case to the next grand jury.

Craft was brought into the jail courtroom in handcuffs and a yellow inmate jumpsuit, and was placed in a chair near the judge’s bench. A family member who came to support him later said she was told not to make any comments.

The lead Gulfport police detective, Paul Rhodes, was prepared to testify.

Thompson did not request a bond reduction for Craft, who is held at the Harrison County jail on $100,000 bond.

Harrison County prosecuting attorney Herman Cox said he would have argued against lowering Craft’s bond.

Police Chief Leonard Papania has said Craft used an illegally obtained gun.

Zaylan was buried Saturday after funeral services at Olivet Baptist Church.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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