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Press Release

Two Durham Gang Members Sentenced to Life in Prison for the Murder of Nine-Year-Old Z’yon Person

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of North Carolina

GREENSBORO – Two Durham men were sentenced today in Greensboro to imprisonment for life for multiple offenses related to the murder of nine-year-old Z’yon Person in Durham, North Carolina on August 18, 2019.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Antonio Nathaniel Davenport, Jr., 27, also known as “Lil Tony,” and Derrick Lamont Dixon, Jr., 30, also known as “Smacc,” were members of the Eight Trey Gangster Crips criminal street gang. Members of the gang committed shootings targeting rival gang members. They also trafficked drugs, committed bank fraud, and intimidated witnesses. Davenport was also a member of the Durham-based rap music group “83 Babies,” so named for the “Eight Trey” Gangster Crips. The rap group promoted the gang, rapping about gang life, gun violence, and drug distribution.

On August 14, 2019, rival gang members assaulted Davenport at the Streets at Southpoint mall in Durham. They posted a video of the assault on Instagram and taunted him and the Eight Trey Gangster Crips. Davenport and Dixon then conspired with fellow gang members, including Dival Nygee Magwood, 24, also known as “Paco,” to retaliate. On the evening of August 14, 2019, Dixon, Magwood, and others committed a drive-by shooting in south Durham.

In the days following, Davenport exchanged threatening messages with a rival gang member on Instagram and messages with fellow gang members plotting revenge. On Sunday August 18, 2019, Davenport, Dixon, and Magwood drove to an area in north Durham they knew to be frequented by rival gang members. Davenport was armed with a 9mm handgun, Dixon with a .40 caliber handgun, and Magwood with an assault-style 7.62mm pistol. At approximately the same time, 8:30 pm, nine-year-old Z’yon Person was riding in his aunt’s car with four other children on their way to get sno-cones. Davenport, Dixon, and Magwood misidentified the car as a rival gang member’s, specifically the car used by the individual with whom Davenport had exchanged the threatening Instagram messages the day before.

Davenport followed the car down Leon Street to the intersection at North Duke Street and slowed as he passed. He and Dixon opened fire on the car, discharging at least five 9mm rounds and seventeen .40 caliber rounds, hitting the car multiple times. Two bullets pierced the window that Z’yon Person was seated next to where he was struck in the head and killed. His eight-year-old cousin, seated next to him, was struck in the arm.

At the time, Davenport was wearing a court-ordered ankle monitor because of pending domestic violence charges. The location data placed him at the murder scene, as well as at Dixon’s and Magwood’s homes prior to the shooting and following it, and at other locations relevant to the planning and cover-up. A surveillance camera at a middle school captured Davenport’s Honda as it followed the victims’ car immediately prior to the shooting. Shortly after the murder, Davenport paid to have his car painted black. Investigators recovered a 9mm handgun from Davenport’s girlfriend’s car, and forensic firearms examination linked the handgun to the murder.

“Words are woefully insufficient to describe the heinous violence that resulted in the loss of Z’yon’s life,” said U. S. Attorney Sandra Hairston. I am grateful to the Durham Police Department, the FBI, and the Durham County Sheriff’s Office for their hard work in the pursuit of justice for Z’yon and his family.”

Dixon pled guilty on May 11, 2021 in federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit acts of racketeering and one count of violent crime, that is, murder, in aid of racketeering. Davenport was convicted, on July 7, 2022, after a jury trial, of one count of violent crime, that is, murder, in aid of racketeering, one count of discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and one count of discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence causing death.

Davenport was previously convicted of Second-Degree Burglary, Felony Larceny, and Flee/Elude Arrest in 2016 in Durham County. Dixon was convicted of multiple felonies in 2012 in Durham County, including Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon and Breaking and Entering.

"We hope these life sentences bring some sense of justice to all of those who loved Z’yon. It is unfathomable a 9-year-old boy lost his life due to gang violence. We are grateful to our law enforcement partners for their tireless work,” said Michael C. Scherck, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in North Carolina.

“The death of Z’yon Person was a tragedy that impacted many in our community. I thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of North Carolina for their hard work to hold those responsible accountable,” said Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry. “From the beginning, this case has involved tremendous interagency cooperation – between Durham police, federal law enforcement, federal prosecutors and Assistant District Attorney Kendra Montgomery- Blinn in the Durham DA’s Office – exemplifying the strong collaboration between our agencies and our shared commitment in responding to violence. Today, my thoughts are with Z’yon’s family. I hope this outcome provides some closure to those who knew and loved him.”

“Many Durham County residents have cried out for justice in this case since the senseless and tragic murder of Z’yon Person happened in 2019,” said Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead. “Here we are, three years later, and justice has been served – with the intervention of federal authorities to charge, successfully prosecute, and sentence both Antonio Davenport and Derrick Dixon. It sends a clear signal to those who continue committing the gun violence terrorizing our communities – we will identify you, and you will be held accountable. My office will continue partnering with local, state, and federal law enforcement to make Durham County safe. I am pleased to see in this specific case, our partnership is working. It is moments like these that remind us we must keep working together to combat crime, specifically gun violence, as we strive to protect and serve all residents of Durham County.”

“We are thankful for the work of our Durham Police Department employees and federal partners,” said Durham Police Chief Patrice V. Andrews. “Without their efforts, this successful prosecution would not have been possible.”

U.S. Attorney Sandra Hairston made the announcement, and the case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys JoAnna G. McFadden and Eric L. Iverson. The prosecution was coordinated with the Durham County District Attorney’s Office. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Raleigh-Durham Safe Streets Task Force and the Durham Police Department with assistance from the Durham County Sheriff’s Office.


Updated October 5, 2022