Remembering Deondra Barksdale

Published on 14 June 2024 at 16:48

June twenty-fourth marks a grim anniversary for one local family; it’s been a year since Deondra Barksdale, a young single mother, was shot and killed after purchasing fruit juice for her young daughter at a Whitehall package store. 

Deondra (DeeDee to her friends and family) would have celebrated her twenty-fourth birthday this month. Instead, her still-active social media page overflows with memorials and condolences from scores of friends and neighbors. 

“Well this month (June) is a rough one for me,” says her mother Tanika Barnes in a post. “Happy Heavenly 24th Birthday to my Baby Girl Deondra Saniyaa. I Love and Miss you.”

“This still a tough pill to swallow,” writes her father Myreon Barksdale. “The pain is still deep, nightmares are still there. Just know I (love) you definitely miss you more than words could explain. Get your rest my Beautiful Princess Happy Heavenly Birthday we all miss you down here.”

For Deondra’s young daughter Ki'Ari Sanai  — just two in March — Mother’s Day will serve only as a memorial to her mom.


One year ago, just before 11PM on a Saturday evening, Deondra was struck in the head as she exited William Derricott’s WD Package Shop. A group had formed near the store, reportedly spilling over from a nearby party celebrating the life of Mitaiveon “Tae” Tutt, killed in 2020 by a companion mishandling a firearm. An altercation began, involving a young man and his mother —  they’d been at her birthday party earlier, according one account — and ended in gunfire. 

Within the hour, Deondra was transported by helicopter to a level-one trauma center in Augusta with a gunshot wound to the head. She would not survive the night.

Cedric Antonio Norman, 21 of Washington, stands accused of murder, four counts of aggravated assault, possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and gang-related activity, all stemming from the shooting death of Ms. Barksdale and the wounding of his mother, Yetoi T. Norman.

Barksdale was struck in the head by a stray bullet, and Ms. Norman, the assailant’s mother, was shot in the arm attempting to stop her son. The altercation, by some accounts, was because of an on-going argument between son and mother, or between Mr. Norman and his mother’s companion. According to a friend, Ms. Norman continues to suffer from her gunshot wound.

Wilkes deputies and EMS responded to the scene, but Ms. Barksdale was transported to Wills Memorial Hospital in a private car. Around midnight, she was airlifted from Washington to a hospital in Augusta, where she later died.

Wilkes County deputies and agents of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) spent nearly four days canvassing the city and surrounding area, questioning neighbors and acquaintances in the search for Norman. GBI Special Agent in Charge Jamie Skelton said the teams repeatedly visited the suspect’s known friends and neighbors, stressing the importance of Norman peaceably surrendering to authorities. Norman finally appeared at the Wilkes Sheriff’s department late the following Wednesday, escorted by family members, and was taken into custody according to the GBI.

A year later, Norman remains confined in the Wilkes County Jail, under a half-million-dollar bond. In addition to charges related to the Barksdale shooting, Norman was indicted earlier this year for his involvement in a gang-related jailhouse fight — involving some members of local gang MTO/Tutt Block — that left a Sheriff’s staff jailer with a minor head injury. One of Norman’s fellow indictees is Cornelious Burley, who’s serving a prison sentence for his involvement in a 2022 shooting near Ashley Park, resulting in the death of Tre’Vontae Gray.

According to District Attorney William Doupe’s office, Norman may be tried during an upcoming session of Wilkes Superior Court in November. Norman is represented by Richard Bailey, a public defender.


Written by Richard Crabbe


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