A man faces murder charges after his former schoolmate’s body was found off Lenora Road near Snellville on Nov. 2, authorities said Tuesday.
Melvin Kent Roberts Jr., 25, of Lawrenceville is accused of killing Jabari Pettway of Duluth, according to Gwinnett police. Roberts was arrested the day after the body was found and has been held without bond sense that time.
“Jabari knew Roberts, and our family’s hurting because we know this kid,” the victim’s mother, Casandra Pettway-Mosley, said. Pettway-Mosley said she had previously supported Roberts at a tough time in his life.
“But I don’t think Jabari knew what was coming. I think he was ambushed. … He trusted (Roberts) in some sense.”
Roberts has been charged with murder, aggravated assault, and theft, police spokeswoman Cpl. Michele Pihera said.
Pihera said police released information about Roberts’ arrest nearly two weeks after he was taken into custody because investigators only recently obtained formal warrants for the more serious charges.
On Nov. 2, a worker discovered Pettway’s body lying face up in a grass shoulder where Lenora Church Road dead ends.
When Gwinnett fire officials responded, they pronounced Pettway dead at the scene. He was without his belongings or car.
On Friday, Pettway’s Dodge Avenger was found in Atlanta with heavy fire damage.
Pettway-Mosley said her family is still trying to cope with their loss.
Her son and Roberts attended South Gwinnett High but they were not friends, she said. She believes Roberts may have committed the crime because he was jealous of Pettway.
She said her son was “on the right track,” attended Gwinnett Tech, and was an assistant manager at a Bojangles in Tucker.
He was known for always smiling, his selflessness and being close to his loved ones. He took pride in his appearance, worked hard for everything he had, and stayed out of trouble, Pettway-Mosley said.
Her son wouldn’t normally hang out with someone like Roberts, she said. Roberts had served time for a 2008 robbery, according to Gwinnett court documents.
“Jabari had nice things and a nice job,” she said. “(Roberts) probably had nothing to lose. Maybe he felt like his life wasn’t going anywhere. I don’t want people to slander Jabari’s name; (Roberts) had just re-surfaced after years.”
Pettway knew about Roberts’ past but wanted to catch up with an old friend, Pettway-Mosley said.
Before Roberts’ arrest, she said she didn’t hold a grudge against whoever had killed her son. She feels the same way now but said she is trying to grasp the circumstances.
Pettway-Mosley, who works at Gwinnett Medical Center, remembers visiting Roberts’ room after he was reportedly shot at a house party in Snellville in late 2007.
Pettway went to the party separately from Roberts and his cousin when a shootout happened, according to reports. She thinks Roberts or his cousin, who both were stuck by bullets, may have been the targets.
The cousin died and Roberts barely made it, Pettway-Mosley said.
“God gave (Roberts) another chance because he wasn’t expected to make it,” she said. “I prayed at (Roberts’) bedside, not knowing that he would do this to my son later.”
Roberts’ attorney was not available for comment.