FARGO — A judge has ordered a 22-year-old to serve 15 years in prison for fatally shooting another man last year during a drug deal gone wrong near a north Fargo grocery store.
Reng Zechariah Ayong, Fargo, pleaded guilty Monday, March 1, in Cass County District Court to a Class A felony of murder for the May 12 killing of 39-year-old Anquine Lamont White of Fargo. That charge is a lesser one to the Class AA felony murder count he faced, which carried a life sentence.
Prosecutors planned to argue Ayong, White and Lee Arthur Fry Jr., 30, of Moorhead, were in a car around 7:40 a.m. at the Northport Hornbacher’s parking lot, 2510 Broadway N., so White and Darrell Lamont Simmons, 29, could buy methamphetamine. Simmons had exited the vehicle to get a bag out of the trunk when it sped away erratically, according to court documents.
Witnesses could hear shots being fired, and surveillance footage caught flashes coming from within the vehicle before it crashed on a boulevard at 25th Avenue North and Seventh Street North. Fry and Ayong fled the scene with guns but were later apprehended, prosecutors alleged.
White died from multiple gunshot wounds, police said.
Police found no drugs in the vehicle, Assistant State’s Attorney Ryan Younggren said Monday in court. In previous hearings, he accused Ayong of planning a robbery. The prosecutor claimed Ayong picked up Fry as backup in “the drug deal with no drugs.”
Investigators had been waiting for a ballistics report to see which bullets killed White, but Younggren did not mention that report on Monday. However, he said many bullets from Ayong's gun hit White.
Ayong has a criminal history that includes conspiracy to commit robbery, reckless endangerment, fleeing police and theft. He had been out of prison for roughly two months when he shot White, Younggren said.
Defense attorney Steven Mottinger suggested Ayong could use self-defense to fight prosecution. Negotiations to reach a plea agreement were long and difficult, Mottinger said.
When Judge Steven McCullough asked Ayong had had anything to say before sentencing, Ayong said, “No, sir.”
Younggren said he spoke with White's family, who lives out of state. No victim impact statements were given.
As part of the agreement, charges of conspiracy to commit murder, reckless endangerment, theft and unlawful possession of a firearm were dropped.
Fry still faces the Class AA felony murder charge, as will felony counts of conspiracy to commit murder and unlawful possession of a firearm. His trial is scheduled for March 22.
Simmons pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deliver meth in connection to the case. He is serving a 10-year sentence.
He also agreed to testify in a trial if needed because he wants to seek justice for his friend White.