A third suspect was arrested Thursday in connection with the shooting death earlier this year of a 16-year-old Merced boy.
Noah Sanders, 23, was arrested in Sacramento on suspicion of murder in connection with the death of Donovan Webster, who was shot and killed just after midnight Feb. 17 at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and West 20th Street, the Merced Police Department reported.
Police arrested Phillip Sloan, 20, on Monday on suspicion of murder. Investigators believe he drove the getaway vehicle after Webster was killed, Capt. Tom Trindad said.
“Sloan was initially interviewed in the early stages of the investigation and denied any involvement in the homicide,” Trindad said. “From the beginning, detectives believed there were two or possibly three individuals in the vehicle when the suspects pulled up to Webster. Throughout the course of the investigation witnesses have identified Sloan and Sanders in the vehicle.”
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Sanders and Sloan remain in custody without bail in Merced County.
The suspected shooter, Jerome Wynne, 22, was arrested in June and remains in custody at the Merced County Jail on more than $2 million bail, according to booking records.
Wynne pleaded not guilty to all charges June 30. He is scheduled to appear in court again Tuesday to confirm a new defense attorney. A preliminary hearing is scheduled Aug. 25 before Judge Mark V. Bacciarini, according to Merced Superior Court records.
All three suspects have been formally accused of street gang involvement, jail and court records show.
Wynne’s mother, Stephanee Sanders, told the Merced Sun-Star she believes her son is innocent and described Wynne and Webster as “close friends.”
“He didn’t do it,” Sanders said in a telephone interview. “I know he was home asleep when it happened.”
Efforts to reach Webster’s family Thursday were unsuccessful.
Police believe Webster once belonged to a Merced street gang and that he was shot and killed by members of his former gang. Police were also told gang members may have been looking to kill one of Webster’s relatives and either shot Webster because they could not find their intended target or in a case of mistaken identity, according to a report filed in Merced Superior Court.
Investigators have not located the murder weapon.
Webster was shot between four and six times, including twice after he was on the ground.
Webster had been staying at Valley Teen Ranch, a group home outside Madera, but apparently walked away from the facility the night of Feb. 15, the police report says.
Webster showed up unexpectedly at his parents’ home around midnight Feb. 17 before leaving to visit his brother at a nearby friend’s house.
Police said Webster was either walking to that nearby residence or walking back to his parents’ home when the shooting happened.
Investigators said Webster was approached by a man wearing a hooded sweat shirt who fired two shots, then fired two more shots once Webster was on the ground. The shooter then climbed into the passenger seat of a damaged, gold-colored vehicle, which sped away with its lights off toward G Street, the report says.
Webster’s family members heard the gunshots, went outside and saw the victim on the ground.