ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) - A man who police say was the getaway driver in a robbery gone wrong rejected a plea deal Tuesday in Roanoke County. Police say last year, Andrew Jeffers drove several people to a home on Overland Road where they intended to steal drugs and money.
In the struggle, a gun went off, and Amber Ross was killed. Jeffers, prosecutors say, drove off with three other defendants, leaving Ross behind. The homeowner drove her to the hospital where she later died.
The victim's family was in court Tuesday, including Ross' mother Teresa Cottrell. She said Jeffers was the victim's fiance. She is angry Jeffers left her behind in the home.
"You have to make it through each day at a time," she said about life since her daughter's death. "Like I said her kids are awesome so you know and that helps a lot. But they miss their mom, but there's so many things they're gonna miss. That she's gonna miss."
Jeffers was on the run before he could be caught by police. He faces robbery and armed burglary charges. His case will go to trial in October.
Cottrell said Ross had four children. Cottrell believes her family was lied to by Jeffers during the course of his two and a half year engagement to Ross.
Cottrell said her daughter was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She said what prosecutors told her about the situation seemed out of character for her daughter. Cottrell said she believed that her daughter was only friends with another defendant, Shamby Walker, for a few weeks.
Shamby Walker appeared before a judge in Roanoke County in June where she entered a plea deal with the Commonwealth's Attorney's office. Walker was facing five charges, including second-degree felony murder, breaking and entering and felony robbery.
Walker pleaded guilty to the felony robbery charge, and prosecutors agreed to drop the other charges. The judge said Walker would be sentenced at a later date, but noted that she could face life in prison for the charges.
According to prosecutors, on May 19, 2018, Shamby Walker and Amber Ross were at a home on Overland Drive in Roanoke County where they did drugs with the homeowner. Prosecutors say the two women conspired to return later in the day to the home to rob the homeowner of drugs and money.
They pulled in three people to help them with the operation including Jeffers. They also pulled in their friend, Aaron Witcher, who Deputy Commonwealth Attorney Nate Griffith called the "muscle."
They also pulled in a juvenile that WDBJ7 was able to confirm is Shamby Walker's son. He has since turned 18 and prosecutors identified him as Malike Brown.
Griffith told the court Friday that later in the day on May 19, 2018, Ross and Walker returned to the home on Overland Road while the three men waited in the car. Griffith read text messages aloud he said were between Ross and Witcher. Ross, he said, was explaining to Witcher what was going on in the home and telling him she would attempt to distract the homeowner and two other people at the home.
On Ross' signal, Witcher and the juvenile entered the home. The juvenile, Griffith said, took a phone from an unnamed woman inside the home. Witcher, he said, scuffled with the homeowner. The homeowner, Griffith said, told deputies that Witcher also took money from his pocket. During their scuffle, the gun Witcher had brought with him went off. The bullet hit Amber Ross in the neck and then was lodged into the wall.
Griffith said that Walker, Witcher and the juvenile fled in the car driven by Jeffers to a home in Roanoke City. That's when the homeowner and the other man inside the Overland Drive home took Ross' body to the Lewis Gale Emergency Room near the Tanglewood Mall. After leaving her body there, they left.
Deputies were able to track down the homeowner through his license plate captured on surveillance video by Lewis Gale. That led them to Overland Drive and eventually, to the home where they found Walker, Witcher, Jeffers and Brown.
In May, Witcher pleaded no contest to the charges levied against him. He was charged with second-degree murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, robbery, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Prosecutors requested that the final charge include the term "violent felon" as he said Witcher was once convicted of a felony in Roanoke City in 2015.
The judge said Witcher would serve 16 years of a 58-year sentence in jail. Prosecutors dropped a fifth charge for statutory burglary while armed.