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Cousins charged in homicides of ASU football player Markel Owens, stepfather

Markel Owens, a 21-year-old Arkansas State University defensive lineman and his stepfather were shot and killed Wednesday night during a home invasion robbery in Jackson.
Markel Owens, a 21-year-old Arkansas State University defensive lineman and his stepfather were shot and killed Wednesday night during a home invasion robbery in Jackson.
The Jackson Police Department and Facebook

Two Jackson men have been charged in the Wednesday night double homicide of 21-year-old Markel D. Owens, an Arkansas State University defensive lineman and his stepfather, according to a Saturday morning news release from the Jackson Police Department.

Police said Johnny Wade, 19, and his cousin, 22-year-old Derrick Wade, are each charged with two counts of felony murder of Markel Owens and Owens’ stepfather, 36-year-old Johnny Shivers. They are also charged with attempted first-degree murder of Owens’ 37-year-old mother, Chermaine Owens, especially aggravated robbery of Shivers, aggravated assault of Owens’ 16-year-old brother and tampering with evidence.

Both men are being held in custody at the Madison County Jail, according to the release. Derrick Wade was ordered to be held with no bond at 8:30 a.m. Saturday by Jackson City Court Judge Blake Anderson. Johnny Wade’s charges will be reviewed by Anderson Sunday morning, when Anderson will determine a bond amount. Based on Johnny Wade’s identical charges to his cousins’, police believe Anderson may also order that Johnny Wade be held with no bond.

The cousins are scheduled to both be arraigned at 8 a.m. Tuesday in Jackson City Court, via video link.

According to Jackson police, around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, officers were dispatched to an apartment duplex, located at 770 Walker Road. Chermaine Owens was lying in the front yard with a gunshot wound.

Markel Owens and Shivers were both found with gunshot wounds inside the apartment. Police said Shivers was apparently deceased on the scene, but Markel Owens was transported to the Jackson-Madison County General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Chermaine Owens was treated for her injuries and was released Wednesday night from Jackson-Madison County General Hospital.

The release said that JPD investigators believe the robbers specifically targeted Shivers. A large amount of marijuana was found inside the apartment and while the motive of the incident is still under investigation, JPD believes the robbers knew that the marijuana and/or the cash they stole was inside the apartment.

JPD investigators said they learned that Shivers and his 16-year-old son had arrived home when two masked men, identified by investigators as the Wades, rushed Shivers and the teen and forced them inside the apartment, where Markel Owens and his mother were. The Wades, armed with handguns, demanded money and a struggle began.

Markel Owens helped Shivers and began fighting one of the men, the release said. It was during the struggle that Shivers and Owens were both shot. One of the gunmen then shot Markel Owens’ mother.

Jackson Police Capt. Tyreece Miller has said police believe Markel Owens was protecting his family when he was shot.

Police said the men got away with a large amount of cash.

Jackson police learned, during their ongoing investigation, that Derrick Wade was shot in the thigh during the struggle and needed medical attention. Following the incident, Derrick Wade was driven by private vehicle from Jackson to the Regional Medical Center (The Med) at Memphis, where he was treated and released. Investigators went to Memphis to follow up on a lead and with the assistance of the Memphis Police Department, Jackson investigators found Derrick Wade at a relative's house around 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Jackson police took Wade into custody and transported him back to Jackson.

The release said Jackson investigators also found a handgun at the house.

With Derrick Wade in custody, investigators developed the case and determined that Johnny Wade was the second robber and gunman. Investigators signed a warrant for his arrest on Friday.

The release said information on Johnny Wade’s location was developed by the U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force.

Ripley police and the task force, which is comprised of the Deputy U.S. Marshals and investigators from the Jackson Police Department's Gang Unit and Jackson-Madison County Metro Narcotics Unit, arrested Johnny Wade at a Ripley, Tenn. home around 6 a.m. Saturday.

Markel Owens, who grew up in Jackson and graduated from Liberty Technology Magnet High School in 2010, was, in high school, a three-time all-district selection, including first team honors in 2008 and 2009, according to Astateredwolves.com, the official site of Arkansas State University Athletics. He was named District MVP in 2009 and also all-state selection.

Markel Owens, who stood 6 feet and 2 inches tall and 303 pounds, committed to ASU on Feb. 3, 2010. He was a Redshirt senior who was an ASU Athletic Director’s Honor Roll member and played five games, including the Go-Daddy.com Bowl in 2010. In 2012, Owens, whose number is 94, played three games in a reserve role on the defensive line, according to the website.

Markel Owens was also a business management major and a three-year letterman who had just completed his redshirt junior season, according to the website.

Jackson police are asking that anyone with information about this crime contact the Jackson Police Department's Major Crimes Bureau at 731-425-8400 or call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 731-424-8477 (TIPS). You can also submit a cyber tip at jmcrimestoppers.org and click on “web tips.”