GBI: Arrest in 2015 SSU murder 'means a lot'

Chris Starks (Source: WTOC)
Chris Starks (Source: WTOC)
Chris Starks (Source: WTOC)
Chris Starks (Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - GBI agents spoke Friday for the first time since an arrest in a 2015 murder on Savannah State's campus.

State and local police arrested Justin Stephens while he was at work Thursday. They said Stephens was very cooperative with arresting officers. He's charged in the shooting death of SSU student Chris Starks.

Starks died two and a half years ago on campus. Investigators have always said a big crowd of people witnessed his death. All this time, no one came forward. Thing started changing this year, enough so for GBI agents to get warrants and then an indictment from a Chatham County grand jury.

"We feel we like we have the right guy. It's been a long time coming," said Josh Ayer, the assistant special agent in charge of the Statesboro GBI office. "Hard work, interviewed hundreds of people, finally got the result that we were looking for that the family expected from us."

Stephens was not a student at SSU at the time. Agents worked with state patrol and Savannah Police to arrest Stephens Thursday. They showed up at his job at City Gear on East Victory to get the man they say killed Starks.

"It means a lot to the GBI. It means a lot for Region 5 office in Statesboro. For Sharron Starks, she's been in constant communication with us," said Ayer. "To be able to make the phone call to her that this case has taken the next step means the world to us."

WTOC has talked to Sharron Starks for the past two years. Despite several emotional pleas, no arrest was ever made in her son's death. We asked her if she thought this day might never come.

"I felt like that a lot. Lately, I've just been just very emotional," said Starks by phone from Atlanta. "I miss him every day. I've just been feeling really, really sad."

Starks is quick to add—this arrest does nothing to bring her son back. It also tears apart another family. Starks said there are no real winners in this case. Still, she's thankful the GBI never gave up.

"Just couldn't give up, but it's been rough, it's been hard," Starks said.

GBI agents hope this arrest starts a new chapter in Sharron Starks's healing. While they feel like they have the right guy, this process is far from over.

Stephens has been indicted so the next steps will be preliminary hearings before an eventual court date is set.

On Wednesday, April 25, Stephens was indicted by a Chatham County Grand Jury on ten charges. Those charges include murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault and other firearm-related offenses.

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