From first-degree murder to manslaughter, Mugridge negotiates favorable plea

David R. Mugridge

After nearly two years of negotiations with the Fresno County District Attorney, David Mugridge announced that he secured a plea deal for his client Jahleel McGruder. The deal allows Mr. McGruder to plead no contest to manslaughter and robbery, rather than face a murder trial and possible life sentence. Now, Mr. McGruder will now serve the balance of 23 years in prison with credit for time served in Fresno County Jail awaiting trial.

Mr. McGruder was accused along with Marquis Graves in the death of Brajoni Freeman, who was found dead in his home with a single gunshot wound. Mr. Freeman was a home barber who also sold drugs out of his home.

“We were very happy to take this deal, especially when his exposure was life in prison without parole,” Attorney Mugridge told the Fresno Bee.

Mugridge thinks the deal was a result of changing laws around felony murder as well as a lack of evidence sufficient for a first-degree murder conviction.

Video surveillance shows both suspects arriving at Freeman’s apartment, then leaving a few minutes later, Mugridge noted.”

The video does not show that the men entered the apartment, nor does it show any shooting. With the short duration of the visit and Mr. Freeman’s drug trade, it is possible that Mr. McGruder and Mr. Graves made a quick drug transaction and left,” Mr. Mugridge said. “Nonetheless, it’s always a win when you take a life sentence off the table.”

Mr. McGruder will be sentenced July 8, 2022.