Maryland Man Sentenced to Life in Murder of Three People

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HARRISBURG, PA — The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Jerell Adgebesan, age 35, of Baltimore, Maryland and Hagerstown, Maryland, was sentenced Friday to life imprisonment for his role in the June 25, 2016 murders of three individuals in Mercersburg, Franklin County, one of whom was cooperating with state and federal drug investigators. The sentence was imposed by United States District Court Judge Christopher C. Conner, who also sentenced Adgebesan to a consecutive 20-year term of imprisonment on a companion robbery charge. 

According to United States Attorney Gerard M. Karam, Adgebesan’s conviction was the result of a six-year investigation into three murders that occurred on June 25, 2016, on a property along Welsh Run Road in Mercersburg, Franklin County. When Pennsylvania State Police officers were called to the scene, they found the bodies of Wendy Ann Chaney, 39, Hagerstown, Md, Brandon Cole, 47, Fayetteville, PA, and Phillip Matthew Jackson, 36, Mercersburg, PA, in a barn on victim Jackson’s property. All were shot. The three victims had their hands zipped-tied behind their backs and had been set on fire. Jackson and Cole were shot once in the head. Chaney was shot twice, once in the back and one in the back of her neck. Wendy Chaney and Brandon Cole were already dead when the police responded to the scene.  Phillip Jackson was transported to York Hospital where he died shortly after arrival.

The evidence previously presented at the guilty plea proceeding in June of 2022 established that Wendy Chaney was in a relationship with co-defendants Kevin Coles and Torey White and had been previously assisting both with their drug distribution operation. Coles, White and co-defendant Devin Dickerson learned that Chaney was cooperating with federal authorities and contracted for her to be murdered. Adgebesan and co-defendant Kenyatta Corbett recruited members of a Baltimore based gang known as the Black Guerilla Family and others from Baltimore to travel to the Jackson property to kill Wendy Chaney. Adgebesan knew these individuals from Baltimore and acknowledged he and Corbett recruited them to murder Chaney. The killers were promised that they could take as payment $20,000 that was to be in a safe in the barn and any drugs and firearms that they could locate on the Jackson property. Once there, the killers encountered not only Wendy Chaney but also Brandon Cole and Phillip Jackson. Chaney was killed to protect the drug trafficking activities of Coles, White, Dickerson, Corbett, and others. Jackson and Cole were murdered to prevent them from being witnesses to the crimes of violence that were committed at the Jackson property. The killers never found any money on the property but stole some drugs and firearms.

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The following individuals were charged along with Adgebesan as a result of the investigation:

  • Devin Dickerson, age 31, Hagerstown, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin and crack cocaine and is awaiting sentencing;
  • Kenyatta Corbett, age 38, Hagerstown, pleaded guilty to Hobbs Act robbery and to being an accomplice to the use of a firearm during Hobbs Act robbery and is awaiting sentencing;
  • Michael Buck, age 30, Hagerstown, pleaded guilty to Hobbs Act robbery and to being an accomplice to the use of a firearm during Hobbs Act robbery and is awaiting sentencing;
  • Nicholas Preddy, age 29, Baltimore, pleaded guilty to attempting to kill a witness and is awaiting sentencing;
  • Johnnie Jenkins-Armstrong, age 22, Baltimore, pleaded guilty to Hobbs Act robbery and to being an accomplice to the use of a firearm during Hobbs Act robbery and is awaiting sentencing;
  • Terrance Lawson, age 31, Baltimore, sentenced to time served for attempting to intimidate a witness;
  • Tyrone Armstrong, age 30, Baltimore, sentenced to time served for attempting to intimidate a witness; and
  • Christopher Johnson, age 31, Baltimore, Maryland, pleaded guilty to multiple counts including murder for hire and is awaiting sentencing;
  • Mark Johnson, 35, Baltimore, Maryland, pled guilty to obstructing the grand jury’s investigation and was sentenced to 110 months’ imprisonment;
  • Llesenia Woodard, 46, Hagerstown, Maryland, pled guilty to providing false testimony to the grand jury investigating the murders and is awaiting sentencing
  • Kevin Coles, Kevin Coles, age 36, of New York, NY and Hagerstown, Maryland, was found guilty in April of multiple crimes, including murder for hire, robbery, and drug trafficking, and is awaiting sentencing;
  • Yolanda Diaz, 31, Hagerstown, Md, indicted on multiple counts of perjury and obstruction of justice based upon her testimony at the Coles trial. Her trial is currently scheduled for March 2023.
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Joshua Davis, age 30, previously pled guilty to participating in the conspiracy to locate and kill an individual believed to be cooperating with federal authorities in the investigation of the triple murders. Davis was sentenced to serve 100 months imprisonment. Torey White’s trial is scheduled for May 2023.

The following federal, state and local law enforcement agencies participated in the investigation:  Drug Enforcement Administration Harrisburg Resident Office; Pennsylvania State Police, Chambersburg; Pennsylvania State Police, Troop H; Franklin County Drug Task Force; Franklin County Adult Probation; Pennsylvania State Probation and Parole; Hagerstown Police Department, Criminal Investigation Division; Drug Enforcement Administration, Hagerstown Resident Office; Washington County Narcotics Task Force; Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office, Strike Force Group 1; Maryland State Police Homicide Unit; Baltimore Police Department Narcotics, Fugitive And Homicide Units; Baltimore County Police Department Narcotics and Gang Unit; Federal Bureau of Investigation Evidence Management Unit, Quantico, VA; US Marshal’s Service Harrisburg, PA and Phoenix, AZ; Franklin County District Attorney’s Office; United States Attorney’s Office, District Of Maryland; and the Washington County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Judy Fernandez, Manager of Analytic Services at LexisNexis Special Services, Inc., (LNSSI) provided expert assistance to investigators and the prosecutors in the areas of analysis, support, and the rendering of her expert opinion.

Assistant United States Attorney William A. Behe, Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, and Senior Litigation Counsel Michael Consiglio are prosecuting the case.

All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

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