Murder outside Detroit eatery ends in guilty verdicts

Robert Snell
The Detroit News
Deaunta Belcher, left, and Andre Watson.

Detroit — Two men were convicted Wednesday in a murder-for-hire plot that left a man dead in a killing recorded by a security camera outside a popular Detroit restaurant.

Detroit residents Deaunta Belcher, 35, and Andre Watson, 32, face mandatory life in federal prison after a jury convicted them of murder-for-hire, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and oxycodone, and a gun crime. 

The jury deliberated for parts of three days after a four-week trial in federal court in downtown Detroit.

The case was tied to the September 2015 death of Devin Wallace, 30, of Novi, who was shot and killed outside They Say restaurant in the city's Warehouse District.

Investigators determined Belcher and the victim were part of a drug and fraud scheme that involved stealing the identities of drug customers and using the information to obtain cars, apartments, furniture and other items. The items were leased to drug dealers in Detroit, prosecutors said.

Belcher and others decided to kill Wallace so they could overtake his role in the fraud and drug conspiracy and make more money, prosecutors said.

Belcher and a co-defendant, Darnell Bailey, 29, of Roseville offered Watson and a fourth man, Detroit resident Stephen Brown, 27, money, a car and other compensation to kill Wallace, according to the government.

Watson and Brown hunted the victim for weeks until Bailey arranged a meeting with the victim outside They Say restaurant on Sept. 11, 2015, prosecutors said.

Darnell Bailey, 29, of Roseville, arranged to meet victim Devin Wallace, 30, of Novi, and stalled him as Wallace sat in a white
Mercedes Benz outside They Say restaurant in September 2015.

Brown, Watson and a third man drove to the restaurant. Brown fired twice and Watson fired 12 rounds at the victim as he sat in a car outside the restaurant, prosecutors said.

Wallace was shot six times in the head and died at the scene.

Wallace was killed because he was cooperating with the DEA in a separate investigation, according to Belcher and Bailey — an apparent attempt to mislead investigators.

Bailey, Brown and a third man, Billie J. Chambers, 33, of Detroit, pleaded guilty for their roles in the murder-for-hire plot and are awaiting sentencing. 

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