BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WSAV) — Two suspects have pled guilty to lesser charges in the 2021 death of a Brunswick teenager.

The charges stem from the Apr. 2021 shooting death of 17-year-old Javier Cordova at a Glynn County apartment complex.

According to the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s office, Cordova appeared uninvited
at a cookout at the Coastal Crest Suites in Glynn County. No one knew Cordova and he was intoxicated at the time. While at the cookout, Cordova tripped over a grill and knocked it over. While he was on the ground, Bria Register, 29, saw that he had a handgun and she took it from him.

Register then went to her co-defendant’s apartment, 43-year-old Michael Howard, in the same complex. Cordova showed up and banged on the door to get his gun back. Cordova left the apartment but returned still banging. Register was angry and she and Howard led Cordova to the side of Cypress Mill Road, where Register pistol-whipped Cordova.

Register and Howard claimed that Register was acting in self-defense and that while Register was pistol-whipping Cordova, the gun accidentally fired.

Left to right: Michael Howard, 43 and Bria Register, 29.

After the gun fired, Register and Howard left Cordova on the side of the road and did not call 911 to report the incident. Howard later returned to check on Cordova and found him dead. Cordova was shot one time in the chest and died as a result of his wounds.

Register and Howard were both originally charged with felony murder in April 2021. However, Howard’s felony murder charge was dropped in June 2021 because prosecutors say he did not know Register would use his gun to kill Cordova, but he was still charged with tampering with evidence.

Register, 29, pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter in Glynn County Superior Court on Apr. 5. Register was originally charged with felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, but the charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

Howard pled guilty to tampering with evidence.

Judge Stephen D. Kelley sentenced Register to 20 years, with the first 13 years in confinement and the remainder served on probation. Howard was sentenced to 5 years probation, with 120-180 days to be served in a Probation Detention Center.

“After talking with the victim’s family and the lead investigator, I decided it was best to extend a plea offer that resulted in the defendants being found guilty. If we had gone to trial, the jury would have been required to consider rendering a verdict for voluntary manslaughter before it considered the felony murder charge, and we would have been required to disprove Register’s claim of self-defense. Under the circumstances, the only evidence that could be presented about the defendants’ interaction with the victim could have only come from the defendants,” said Brunswick District Attorney Keith Higgins.