Man takes plea deal in French street artist killing

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — One of the four defendants in the murder case of a French street artist accepted a plea deal Thursday.

The agreement for Drequone Rich, 21, calls for 23-40 years in prison on second-degree murder charges for the July 2013 killing of Bilal Berreni in which Rich admitted to being the lookout man who stopped the victim from escaping. Rich, who could have received life in prison, is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 18.

“I dont think a trial is the best idea for me,” Rich told Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Morrow Thursday. “I’m guilty.”

Rich cried and hugged family members Thursday before he was taken back to jail to await sentencing.

Rich, two other adults and a juvenile who was 14 years old at the time of the crime were charged in the robbery, beating and fatal shooting of Berreni, 23.

Berreni was living in Detroit when he was killed. He didn’t have identification on his body and it took authorities some time to identify him through DNA and fingerprints.

Rich said he was not armed during the crime and watched the others commit the crime. He said he split the money obtained from the victim with the other defendants. He said he was the lookout man who made sure the victim did not try to escape or leave.

Jasin Curtis, 19, and Dionte Travis, 18, are the other two adults charged. The juvenile suspect is not being named by The Detroit News due to his age. Jury selection in Travis’ trial begins Tuesday. Testimony is expected to begin Thursday.

Defense attorneys for the suspects, meanwhile, have questioned whether they were read their Miranda rights and if they understood them.

The defendants are believed to be part of a near east side gang that preyed on outsiders in the neighborhood near Interstate 75 and Brewster. The gang members are believed to have robbed and killed Berreni outside the abandoned Brewster Homes public housing project July 13, 2013.

The juvenile in the case testified in juvenile court that about $300 was taken during the robbery and the 14-year-old received $50, according to a confession read by a Detroit police homicide investigator during a previous hearing.

The youngster told police he spent his take on pot and junk food.

The boy faces trial in juvenile court on first-degree murder and other charges. He could be sentenced as a juvenile or adult.

(313) 222-2027