Derick Dwamena Prempeh
A Bristow man who shot a Woodbridge man during a “drug deal gone very bad” was sentenced last week to spend 13 years in prison for the shooting.
Jamal Hakeen Ahmad Joseph Bryant, 21, told more than one person he intended to stealing a small amount of marijuana from Derick Dwabena Prempeh, 26, on May 3, 2016, according to testimony. Prempeh knew something was off about the drug deal, prosecutors say, so he armed himself. When the transaction took place, witnesses say they saw Bryant’s U-Haul truck take off with Prempeh hanging off the side in the parking lot of the Chesapeake Apartments in Dumfries. That’s when Prempeh fired at least two shots at Bryant, killing him.
“For a $20 bag of weed, man? Are you serious?” Joseph Bryant, the victim’s father, said to Prempeh during his sentencing hearing on Oct. 20 in Prince William County Circuit Court. “You take a life for that? You can’t ever bring that back.”
Around 1 a.m. on May 3, 2016 Bryant and an acquaintance, Ricardo Jackson, rode together in the U-Haul truck to the Chesapeake Apartments to meet Prempeh. Jackson, who had just met Bryant, told police he intended to buy $10 worth of marijuana from the man after his transaction with Prempeh.
Prempeh met the two in the parking lot and presented them with the marijuana, Conway said, but Bryant complained the bag was short and asked to weigh it out.
Prempeh went to his apartment to get a scale and borrowed a handgun from a friend who was upstairs at the time because he suspected the transaction might go awry, according to the prosecutor.
While Bryant and Jackson were waiting in the truck for Prempeh to come back, Bryant admitted he didn’t have any money and he planned to steal the marijuana, Conway said. Jackson testified he got out of the truck and started walking away at that point to avoid a confrontation.
As Jackson walked away from the apartments, he said he saw Prempeh come back to the truck. Jackson said he heard tires screeching and saw the truck speed off with Prempeh hanging off the side. Jackson said he then heard shots ring out and the truck crash.
Police later found Bryant’s body slumped over the steering wheel of the truck, Conway said, and there was a plastic bag of a little less than an ounce of marijuana in the truck with him.
“It was a drug deal gone very bad,” said Conway. “It was almost doomed from the beginning.”
Dorothy Ross, Bryant’s mother, told the court on Oct. 20 her son was “trying to make a life.”
“He wanted to be a teacher like me,” she said.
When asked if he wanted to address the court, Prempeh expressed remorse for his actions, saying he has “trouble sleeping at night” knowing what he did.
“I wish I would take back what happened,” he said.
Prempeh was originally charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter instead in May.
Conway asked Judge Stephen Smith to impose maximum sentences without any suspended time for Prempeh’s convictions, which would have amounted to 15 years in prison.
Smith imposed the maximum sentences for manslaughter and use of a firearm in commission of a felony, but suspended two years of the latter charge.