Public Safety

Lamar Wilson sentenced to 24 years in Ped Mall fatal shooting last summer

Mother says she 'died inside' the day she lost her son

Lamar Wilson enters a courtroom for sentencing at the Johnson County Courthouse in Iowa City on Friday, March 30, 2018. Wilson received the maximum sentence of 24 years for several charges, including voluntary manslaughter, stemming from a shooting on August 27, 2017, on the Ped Mall in Iowa City that resulted in the death of Kaleek Jones and injury of cousins Xaiver Hicks and D’Andre Hicks. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Lamar Wilson enters a courtroom for sentencing at the Johnson County Courthouse in Iowa City on Friday, March 30, 2018. Wilson received the maximum sentence of 24 years for several charges, including voluntary manslaughter, stemming from a shooting on August 27, 2017, on the Ped Mall in Iowa City that resulted in the death of Kaleek Jones and injury of cousins Xaiver Hicks and D’Andre Hicks. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — The mother of Kaleek Jones said Friday she kissed her son’s cheek as he was dying in the hospital after being shot last summer on the Pedestrian Mall and told him it was “OK to go.”

Shafona Jones “died inside that day” when she lost her son, she said during her victim impact statement at the Friday sentencing of Lamar Wilson, 22, the man convicted of his killing.

Tearing up and stopping at times during her statement, Jones said she had an empty feeling when she heard the verdict.

She told Wilson that no matter how much prison time he does, “it won’t bring Kaleek back.”

Jones said she was going to play a video for the court to show how much her son was loved by his family and how much they loved him. She told Wilson she hoped those images and thoughts stay with him.

“This is a loss, hurt and grief that never goes away,” Jones said.

Jones’ video played after her statement. It showed her and with her son and his four siblings and other family members over the years. Family members and friends, who packed one side of the courtroom, teared up and some started crying as the song “Because You Loved Me” played during the video.

Wilson’s family members and friends were on the other side of the courtroom, also grieving and upset for their loved one after 6th Judicial District Judge Paul Miller sentenced Wilson to 24 years in prison.

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A Polk county jury convicted Wilson in February of voluntary manslaughter, two counts of assault with intent serious injury and intimidation with a dangerous weapon.

Miller on Friday ran the prison sentences consecutively, saying they were crimes of violence and that Wilson “indiscriminating discharged” a gun into a crowd on the Ped Mall on Aug. 27, 2017, fatally shooting Jones, 22, and injuring Xavier Hicks and his cousin, D’Andre Hicks — a factor Miller also noted in his Tuesday ruling when he denied Wilson immunity under Iowa’s “stand your ground” law.

The shooting broke out between the two rival groups over disparaging comments made earlier in the day about Wilson’s friend who had died in a car crash, according to trial testimony. Jones and Hicks were unarmed.

Wilson, who admitted to having two guns and a permit to carry, testified he feared for his life and was forced to defend himself and others.

Miller noted that Wilson hadn’t expressed any remorse and his rationale, according to the pretrial services report, for the shooting was that Donte Taylor, a man with Jones’s group of friends that night, pulled out his gun first. Taylor, who testified at trial, wasn’t shot.

Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness asked the judge to run the sentences consecutively because he took Kaleek Jones’ life and caused life-threatening injuries to D’Andre Hicks, who was shot three times in his abdomen and both legs. Lyness noted that he could have died if the bullet went into his abdomen had hit an organ.

D’andre’s cousin, Xavier Hicks, was also shot in the chest and shoulder area, and he still has numbness in his arm.

Lyness pointed out other people on the mall that night experienced trauma from this crime. This was the first weekend when University of Iowa students were back in school.

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Matt Shimanovsky, Wilson’s lawyer, said the loss of Kaleek Jones is an “absolute tragedy” but Wilson’s live has also been forever changed. He asked the judge to run all the other sentences consecutively to 10 years for the voluntary manslaughter for a total of 10 years in prison.

“Lamar Wilson is still a young man with long future ahead of him,” Shimanovsky said. “He has time to turn his life around.”

Wilson declined to speak during the sentencing when Miller asked.

Miller said Wilson will have to serve a minimum of five years before being eligible for parole. He was also ordered to pay $150,000 in victim restitution to Kaleek Jones’ children and their mother.

Miller also denied the defense’s motion to reconsider the immunity issue and one asking for a new trial.

On Tuesday, Miller denied Wilson immunity, ruling Wilson didn’t prove his actions were justified and he wouldn’t give him immunity from prosecution under the stand your ground law.

Miller said there was “undisputed” evidence and testimony presented at trial and afterwards that showed Wilson “indiscriminately discharged” a gun five times into a “crowd or assembly of people on the busy and crowded downtown Iowa City Pedestrian Mall, striking three unarmed individuals.”

Miller focused much of his ruling on the constitutionality of 704.13 — the stand your ground law passed by the Iowa Legislature last year as part of a sweeping gun rights bill.

Miller concluded the law was “void for vagueness” and could not be enforced in this case. He said there was no uniform procedure to follow and every judge possibly would interpret it differently without guidance.

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The judge wrote that Wilson hadn’t proven by a “preponderance of the evidence” that he was “entitled to the protection of immunity.”

Miller, in the ruling, said the immunity provision of the law was confusing. He noted the question of immunity usually is decided before trial. But the stand your ground law doesn’t specify that it’s immunity from prosecution — but rather immunity “from criminal or civil liability for all damages incurred by the aggressor.”

In February, however, a judge in Woodbury County took up the immunity issue under the stand your ground law before trial in the case of a man who shot one of two men who attacked him in an alley.

That judge, who granted the defendant immunity from prosecution, followed the procedure used in Florida, which adopted a stand your ground law in 2005.

Miller said the lack of “clarity and specificity” in the law will cause different interpretations by courts, which could result in “inconsistent, arbitrary, and discriminatory application” of the law.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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