Three brothers are behind bars in Lowndes County, each charged with a violent crime, two of which are murder.
Quinton Erby, 24, Joshua Erby, 21, and Kirby Erby, 20, are each in the custody of the Lowndes County Adult Detention Center.
Quinton Erby was arrested this month and charged with murder in the shooting death of Joshua Richardson. Kirby Erby was arrested Tuesday and also charged with Richardson’s murder.
In August, Joshua Erby was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, manifesting extreme indifference to life, for allegedly shooting into a crowd at a party. Two people were injured in the incident.
Kirby Erby was also arrested for his alleged role in the August shooting. He was charged with accessory after the fact.
The boys’ mother, Demora Burgin, 46, said the charges against her sons don’t reflect the men they are or how they were raised. Burgin has six children — five boys and one girl. The boys range from 26 years old to 16 years old. Her youngest child, a daughter, is 7.
Burgin described her sons as best friends who have been close since they were young. The household was noisy, she said, but full of love.
“They grew up together,” she said. “They’re stair-stepping in age and they always had big fun. We always worked and provided for them, we taught them right from wrong. We went on vacations when we could afford it. They never missed a meal, a bath, a haircut. Never missed none of it. As far as a comfortable home, we always provided it. We sent them to school, we helped them with their homework. When there was a problem we would work it out. We talked to them about all kind of life issues. Whenever God put something on my heart, I would pass it on to them, just being a mom. We’re just an ordinary, basic family. We always have been.”
Her oldest son is hoping to become a barber and her youngest son is a student at New Hope High School. Her daughter, who Burgin said is extremely close with her brothers, is in school at New Hope Elementary.
Quinton Erby held a steady job, has an infant daughter, born on his birthday in January, and is engaged to the child’s mother. His fiance is obtaining her business degree, Burgin said.
“I just, I really hate it because he was doing so good,” Burgin said of her son. “He has a really nice fiance and everything was working out in his favor. He was looking to get married soon, had a new baby, nice apartment, good health and strength, job, all that.”
Joshua Erby, who was described as “very laid back” by his mother, attended one year at East Mississippi Community College and also had a fulltime job.
Kirby Erby obtained his GED last year and lived with his mother while working part time at Mississippi State University, Burgin said. Before his arrest, he was planning to go back to school and continue working. His girlfriend is currently in the National Guard.
Despite their violent charges, Burgin said her sons are not violent people nor were they raised that way. She and the children’s father have been divorced for several years but Burgin said she and her ex-husband worked together to raise the children in a loving, Christian environment where they were taught the difference between right and wrong.
“Growing up, we would always talk to them about all kind of issues, what to do and what not to do,” Burgin said. “This gang issue, of course we talked to them when they were little boys. We feel like we started with them early on, talking to them about different issues and we feel that it stuck. We tried to pretty much let them know that…you put God first and then it’s your mama and your daddy and whenever you’ve got something going on you can come to us. We always tried to stay in their head and wanted them to believe what we believe, to do what we would do in whatever situation.”
When asked how three of her six children have ended up in jail, Burgin said, “I honestly don’t have a clue. I don’t know.”
“They come from a good home, good mother and father,” she said. “We taught them right from wrong and we love our children. No parent would want to think that their child would go out and do such a thing.”
Burgin said she does not yet know if she will bail her sons out of jail. In the meantime, she’s taking it “one day at a time.”
“I try to hold myself up because I know people, they’re going to think the worst of you,” she said. “There are two sides to every story and everybody is somebody. Even though my boys are accused of these crimes, they’re still somebody in my eyes. I know what I taught them. That’s my bloodline, those are my boys. I’m not going to stand for nobody judging them and condemning them due to them being charged.”
In addition to being protective of her children, Burgin said she is concerned about her sons’ friends and the battle she feels they’re facing as young black men.
“My heart goes out to a lot of young guys around here. Whenever I see one of them, they remember me, they speak and come up to me. The same thing I would pass on to my own children I would tell to any one of them. I got love for all of them. In the black community, I feel like they already got so many odds against them and I would just like to see any of them go up in life instead of down.”
While her sons have not been convicted, Burgin said she feels like she is mourning a loss.
“It’s a hurtful feeling,” she said. “I miss them already.”
Burgin acknowledged that the victims’ families are grieving as well. She said she is also grieving, but in a different way.
“I feel for that family, I know they’re grieving,” she said. “I’m grieving right along with them. It was senseless no matter how it played out. It was senseless.”
As her sons wait to hear their fate, Burgin said she would continue to support them.
“They are human beings and they shouldn’t be condemned or judged due to what they’re being charged with. Simple as that. Yes, they were accused. But they’re somebody too.”
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.