Knovell Desmond pleads down to first-degree robbery

Prosecutors aren’t saying whether one of two men arrested in the slaying of a city barber must testify against co-defendant and alleged gunman Zaire Smith as part of a plea deal that calls for a deacade-long prison sentence.

Knovell Desmond, 22, was indicted for murder, two counts of robbery and weapons charges for his role in the shooting death of 20-year-old Rasheen Jones. Jones was shot in the head on July 23, 2013, in the city’s West Ward following a botched robbery. Desmond and Smith were arrested and charged in connection with the murder.

As part of a plea bargain, Desmond agreed to admit guilt to first-degree robbery during an appearance Wednesday in Superior Court. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop murder and weapons charges.

Prosecutors have said Smith, 20, was the one who pulled the trigger. He has been offered a deal that calls for a 25-year sentence if he pleads guilty to aggravated manslaughter, prosecutors said.

Jones worked for 15 years cutting hair at Mason’s barbershop before he was gunned down while walking home from a convenience store. He left behind two daughters, aged 5 and 7, at the time.

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