A second man pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter Monday in the 2015 vigilante beating death of a Macon man mistaken for a child molester.
Seymour Passard, 25, was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Ceyunta Cater, 24, pleaded guilty to the same charge last week and was sentenced to 20 years, 15 of them in prison. Passard was on probation at the time of the killing.
Cater, Passard and Passard’s girlfriend, 27-year-old Yolanda Butler, went to Sylvester Harden Jr.’s Nisbet Avenue home on Feb. 19, 2015, to rescue a young girl after the girl called her grandmother to say a man at the house had molested her. Charges still are pending against Butler.
The molester, Levi Moss, was Harden’s cousin. Moss, 31, pleaded guilty to child molestation last year and was sentenced to 15 years, five of them in prison, according to court records.
Mistaking Harden for Moss, the men — who wore masks and carried guns — beat Harden to death in front of four of his children, authorities have said.
Ruby Harden, Harden’s mother, said Passard knew both Moss and her son.
“There wasn’t no mistaken identity,” she said. “Y’all planned it this way.”
Harden had once introduced Passard to his mother, saying, “this is my friend,” she said.
She said Passard and Cater beat her son “like an animal.”
“A person like that doesn’t need to be in society,” Harden said.
Gregory Bushway, Passard’s lawyer, said the group went to the home with “good intentions” to rescue the girl, but the trip “ended in tragedy.”
Speaking before he was sentenced, Passard apologized to Harden’s family, saying, “I had no intention of doing anything to y’all’s father, to your son. It just played out the wrong way.”
Judge Howard Simms said, “This is why it’s not legal anymore to round up a posse and go get somebody.”
Sometimes the posse gets the wrong man.
“And y’all did,” he said.