Suspect’s Mom: ‘I don’t want my child to be portrayed as a monster’

Posted at 4:19 AM, Jan 24, 2012
and last updated 2012-01-25 13:15:00-05

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - The mother of a teenager accused in the weekend murder of Brett Wells spoke to CBS 6 reporter Jerrita Patterson after her son's arraignment Tuesday morning.

"I don't want my child to be portrayed as a monster," Yvonda Dunn said. "I know he is not. He just got caught up in the wrong crowd. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Dunn's son is Xavia Highsmith, 18, of Richmond.

Highsmith, along with Kevin Drayton, Jr., 18, and Da’von T. Byars, 19, was arraigned Tuesday morning on first degree murder charges in the death of 16-year-old Brett Wells. They were also charged with use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and aggravated malicious wounding.

The teenagers were arraigned via video at Hanover County General District Court.

Hanover County investigators said the teenagers showed up at Wells' Mechanicsville home Saturday night to steal marijuana from the Atlee High School student. Deputies said Wells was shot and killed while attempting to get the suspects to leave. Another teenager was shot in the hand and is expected to make a full recovery.

"My condolences to the Wells family," Dunn said outside of court before her lawyer advised her to stop talking to the media.

Monday night hundreds of mourners attended a vigil for the slain student.

She said she was surprised to learn that drugs may have played a role in her son's death.

Shannon Wells, the victim's mother, spoke at the vigil.

"I thought I was a good mom for raising Brett the right way. But sometimes parents don't know what your kids are doing," Wells said to mourners.

The suspects are due back in court on February 10, 2012.