IHOP murder suspect pleads guilty to manslaughter charge

IHOP murder suspect pleads guilty to manslaughter charge

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A man has pleaded guilty to a drug-related killing outside an IHOP restaurant in a case that made headlines when a graphic photo of the victim’s body was uploaded to social media.

Sebastian Vaughn was charged initially with first-degree murder and aggravated robbery for the June 2016 killing of Marlo Williams in the parking lot of IHOP on Sycamore View.

Court records show Vaughn, who was 16 at the time of the crime, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter this week and will be required to serve at least 45 percent of a 15 year prison sentence.

The scene outside IHOP in 2016.
The scene outside IHOP in 2016. (Source: WMC Action News 5)

An image of Williams’ body was posted to Snapchat after the killing and shared with several people, according to the father of one friend who received the photo.

Prosecutors revealed this week that Vaughn is not suspected of taking the photo. Instead, he allegedly asked a friend to go check if Williams was dead and the friend then took a photo of the body, according to Larry Buser with the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office.

Memphis Police announced early in the investigation that the shooting stemmed from a drug deal and there was a struggle between Vaughn and Williams in the vehicle.

Vaughn killed Williams then left the car with marijuana and cash from the drug exchange, police said.

Sebastian Vaughn
Sebastian Vaughn

Prosecutors determined Vaughn could not claim self defense in the case because Williams was not armed, Buser said.

But with no witnesses to the crime, prosecutors could not challenge Vaughn’s assertion that the killing happened during a fight instead of a robbery.

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