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November 16, 2021 - 2:07pm

Devon Wright agrees to plea deal after start of trial

posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.
sponauglemug2020.jpg devonwrightmug2020.jpg
Jacob Sponaugle Devon Wright

One of two men on trial over a gun-sale deal gone bad outside the Days Inn in Batavia on July 22, 2020, has agreed to plead guilty on multiple charges stemming from this case and several others in exchange for a sentence cap of 10 years in prison.

Devon Wright is charged in the Days Inn case with attempted criminal possession of a weapon 2nd and attempted criminal possession of a weapon 3rd.

As part of the deal, Wright will admit to attempted criminal possession of a weapon 2nd.  He is also pleading guilty to assault in the third degree, a misdemeanor, attempted assault 1st, a Class C Violent Felony, and criminal sexual act, also a felony.

In exchange, all other pending charges against Wright will be dropped.

Over the past two years, Wright has been arrested multiple times.

Yesterday, he failed to appear in court to start his trial in the Days Inn case, missing the jury selection process. This morning, his attorney, Nathan Pace, said he stayed with his girlfriend who isexpecting a child any day and Wright wishes to be present at his child's birth.

As part of the plea deal, Friedman has agreed to allow Wright to be released under the supervision of Genesee Justice while Wright awaits sentencing.

While Wright will have a curfew, he will be able to go to the hospital for the birth of his child.

In the Days Inn trial, Jacob Sponaugle is Wright's co-defendant.

Sponaugle is charged with attempted murder, assault, 1st; criminal use of a firearm; aggravated criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd; criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd; and criminal sale of a firearm, 3rd.

In his opening statement this morning, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman explained to the jury his theory of what happened the night of July 22 outside the Days Inn when Jacob Sponaugle allegedly shot Jason Whitehead in an apparent gun-sale deal gone bad.

According to Friedman, Sponaugle and Whitehead met up, with Sponaugle's girlfriend at the time, Crystal Schultz, in the car and drove to the Days Inn to try and sell Devon Wright a .22 pistol. 

When Wright wouldn't pay the asking price, Sponaugle walked away from the meeting and then allegedly turned around, told Whitehead, "It's your fault" and shot him.

The first witness called in the trial was Schultz, who testified that after Whitehead was shot, he let out a "blood-curdling scream." 

Schultz's testimony for the order of events before the shooting matched the case previously laid out by Friedman.   

After the alleged shooting, Schultz said he and Sponaugle drove back to the garage they were living in on Montclair Avenue.  In the car, she said, Sponaugle admitted to shooting Whitehead.

She said when she told him, "This isn't Chicago, it's not a rap song," Sponaugle said he didn't know why he shot Whitehead.

Back at the garage, he tried washing the gunpowder off his hands and wrapped the gun in cloth, and threw it up on the roof of the garage.  He then spoke to somebody on the phone and decided to get the gun off the garage roof. He used a ladder to retrieve it and then placed the gun in a can of paint.  

Sometime later, somebody drove to the residence and Sponaugle walked out of the garage with two paint cans. He returned with none. Later, Schultz found a paint can on the driveway, and she said she believed Sponaugle gave the paint can wth the gun in it to the driver of the car.

The weapon has never been recovered.

This will be Friedman's last case he prosecutes at trial before his retirement on Dec. 9.   This morning, Friedman, who has been with the DA's office for 40 years, told The Batavian that this was also the first two-defendant trial he's ever tried.

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