Teenager pleads guilty to murder

Teenager pleads guilty to murder


A 19-year-old man pleaded guilty to the February murder of his guardian and mentor.

The man Dawton Gage Whatley, 19, of Walls, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of 28-year-old Lemetrius Hollins,  according to District Attorney Bubba Bramlett, Jr.

“We hope the family of Mr. Hollins can begin to get closure now that the criminal case is over,” Bramlett said.

Whatley was indicted on June 7 and pleaded guilty on June 24. Sentencing will be on Tuesday, July 16. 

“The strength of the investigation is what made such a quick case turnaround possible and what ultimately led to Mr. Whatley pleading guilty three weeks after his indictment,” Bramlett said. 

The exact motive remains unclear, although Whatley did admit to shooting Hollins one time on Feb. 3, authorities say. 

Bramlett said it appeared the two men knew each other because Hollins had acted as a guardian and mentor to Whatley in his teen years and Whatley had been living with Hollins prior to the murder.

On Feb. 5, deputies with the Madison County Sheriff’s Department were dispatched to 101 Haley Creek in Madison for a welfare check. Deputies had received information out of Washington County that Whatley was in custody on unrelated charges in their jurisdiction and claimed he had shot Hollins a few days earlier.

Once officers arrived at the home, they found the body of Hollins inside. It appeared he had been shot days earlier. 

Investigators traveled to Washington County and transported Whatley back to Madison County. 

After several conversations with the suspect, Whatley was charged with murder, the authorities said.

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