BROOKHAVEN, Ga. – A robbery victim who was shot and wounded a week ago Sunday, after he attended a wedding in northeast Atlanta, remains in critical condition at Piedmont Hospital.
11Alive is digging to find out why 17-year-old Jayden Myrick, who was arrested and accused of shooting the victim, was out of prison in the first place after pleading guilty to an earlier armed robbery.
We know Fulton County Superior Court Judge Doris Downs in that earlier case ordered Myrick into rehab instead of prison. But did the rehab program she ordered the teen to attend ever do its job?
Instead, Myrick is now accused of armed robbery after shooting and critically wounding 34-year-old Christian Broder, a husband, and father of an infant girl.
At the time Broder was attacked, Myrick was supposed to be enrolled in a live-in rehab program for troubled youth called Visions Unlimited. Judge Downs had ordered him to enroll in the program instead of going to prison for the earlier armed robbery.
The judge had high praise for the program and its founder, Gwen Sands. However, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told 11Alive there is no evidence that Myrick ever enrolled in the program, or that Sands ever reported back to the judge anything about him.
Visions Unlimited has no public profile that 11Alive could find, beyond an outdated Facebook page. There is no website or any published records of any success turning around troubled youth.
Its corporate address is Sands' own condo in Buckhead, and the address listed for its place of business is an apartment complex in Vine City where there was no sign of Visions Unlimited. Public records show the program has not been filing its annual IRS nonprofit reports, and the IRS even revoked its tax exemption in 2015.
In a court hearing last August, Judge Downs ordered Myrick to go into Sands’ program – over the prosecutor’s objections, who called Myrick an un-rehabilitated violent gang member and a danger to society.
That’s when Judge Downs ordered the prosecutor to keep quiet and said, “I don’t want anybody else to be held at gunpoint by [Myrick], I want to end it. You’re interested in punishment, I’m interested in rehabilitation and community safety for the future, because he is going to get out and I want him to be a positive influence in the community.”
Judge Downs is not commenting on a decision that backfired tragically. Sands told 11Alive she may talk with us later about what happened with Jayden Myrick.