JEFFERSON — One of two brothers charged in a fatal shooting last year at the Circle K in Ashtabula pleaded guilty Monday to improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle, a fourth-degree felony.

Dakota Burdette, 26, of Ashtabula, appeared with his defense attorney, Marie Lane, in Ashtabula County Common Pleas Judge Gary Yost’s courtroom.

County Prosecutor Cecilia Cooper said the plea agreement includes Burdette pleading guilty to a firearms charge, forfeiting his firearm and agreeing to five years community control. In exchange, the state will dismiss the remaining six charges, she said.

The charges came about after Burdette’s brother, Travis E. Burdette, 28, of Ashtabula, fatally shot Jerome Noble, 32, on Jan. 24, 2019, after the Burdettes got into a verbal confrontation inside the store with Noble’s cousin, Christopher J. Alston, 33, of Painesville, according to law enforcement officials.

Alston walked out of the store ahead of the Burdette brothers, and made a summoning gesture to Noble, who was waiting in the car, law enforcement officials said. After the Burdettes got into their car, Noble got out of his car, produced a gun and ran up to the passenger window of the Burdettes’ vehicle.

Travis Burdette, who was sitting in the driver's seat, shot Noble several times in the upper chest and neck area, according to the Ashtabula County Coroner’s Office. Travis was not injured and immediately turned himself in to the Ashtabula Police Department.

While police did not arrest Travis Burdette at the time because they did not believe he posed a threat to the community and he had a concealed carry permit, Dakota Burdette was arrested because he had a gun and did not have a concealed carry permit.

On Monday, Dakota admitted he had a gun.

“I had a loaded firearm on me for defense; I carried it constantly,” he said. “I know this was wrong because I did not have a concealed carry permit.”

Yost ordered a pre-sentence investigation and set Dakota Burdette’s sentencing for 9 a.m. March 25.

The victim’s family agreed to the plea deal, then changed their mind, Cooper said.

Alexis Noble, sister to the victim, said the family only agreed to it because they thought both Dakota and Travis Burdette were going to accept a plea deal.

“But Travis didn’t plead guilty,” she said. “We thought Travis was going to take responsibility for killing Jerome.”

Cooper confirmed both men were offered a plea negotiation, but only Dakota Burdette took one. 

Travis Burdette pleaded not guilty in April to one count of felonious assault, a second-degree felony; one count of involuntary manslaughter, a third-degree felony; one count of improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle, a fourth-degree felony; one count of aggravated menacing, a first-degree misdemeanor, and one count of disorderly conduct, a minor misdemeanor, according to the indictment.

He posted a $15,000 cash surety or 10 percent bond with pre-trial services, meaning he is subject to supervision from the Probation Department.

A jury trial was set for Jan. 6, but prosecutors asked for a continuance.

Alston pleaded not guilty in April to one count of having weapons while under disability, and one count of tampering with evidence, both third-degree felonies. His bond was set at $20,000 cash surety or 10 percent.

After the hearing, prosecutors said Alston’s bail was higher than the Burdettes because of Alston’s long criminal record. However, three days later, Alston’s charges were dismissed without prejudice, according to court records.

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