A 21-year-old man who told Maumelle police he fatally shot a man in a jealous rage has accepted a 50-year prison sentence.
Sentencing papers filed Tuesday show Jakobi Cortez Alston of North Little Rock pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for killing 19-year-old Anthony Lamont Thomas Jr. of Maumelle. The plea was in exchange for the 50-year term imposed by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Cathi Compton. Alston has to serve 35 years before he can qualify for parole.
Under the conditions of his plea deal, negotiated by senior deputy prosecutor Jeanna Sherrill and public defender Cheryl Barnard, the charge was reduced from capital murder.
Thomas was found dead in his home at The Gables of Maumelle apartments, 1100 Union Court, in February 2019 by a neighbor who saw that Thomas' Ford Taurus had been driven into the fence surrounding the apartment's playground and had gone to check on him. Thomas was dead in his bedroom, face down and wearing only a shirt and socks. He had been shot twice in the back of the head.
Checking Thomas' cellphone records, Maumelle police found a text-message exchange between Thomas and someone named "Kobi" with the last message sent about 40 minutes before investigators last knew Thomas to be alive, court records show. The messages included plans for Kobi to spend the night with Thomas and arrangements for Thomas to pick up Kobi at 1612 Allen St. in North Little Rock, which turned out to be Alston's home.
Arrested four days after Thomas was killed, Alston first denied knowing Thomas and told police that he was at home when Thomas was killed before admitting to the shooting.
Alston told police that he'd known Thomas since they had dated in high school and described how Thomas had arrived at his home and took him back to Thomas' apartment the night of the slaying, court filings show.
Alston said they had argued and he'd gotten a .22-caliber revolver and shot Thomas twice, first in the upper back, then again in the head when Thomas kept moving. Alston wouldn't initially say what they had argued about, but said that Thomas had begged for his life, court records show.
Alston further stated that after the shooting, he left with Thomas' phone and tried to take Thomas' car but panicked while moving the vehicle and drove it into a fence.
Alston said he ran to another apartment complex where he threw the gun into a large trash receptacle and then fell asleep behind the bin. He told investigators that he woke up and was able to flag down a ride home from some strangers.
Alston also showed police where he had stashed Thomas' phone in his closet and gave investigators the clothes he had been wearing the night of the killing. He then directed them to where he'd thrown the gun, which turned out to be the Windsor Apartments off Rolling Oaks Drive. There was no weapon, and police discovered that the trash had already been collected.
In a subsequent interview, Alston said he shot Thomas after finding Thomas having sex with another man. Alston said he'd left the apartment to talk on the phone and returned a short time later to find Thomas with the other man, who he did not know.
Alston said he'd gotten angry and pointed the weapon at Thomas and the man, who ran out of the apartment. Alston told police he and Thomas had a "heated conversation" before he shot Thomas, according to court records.