BILOXI, Miss. (AP) — A former NFL draft prospect has been found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for shooting a man to death on the floor of a casino on Mississippi's Gulf Coast.
Jurors deliberated for only 46 minutes Thursday before reaching a guilty verdict in the trial of Jereme Lamond Jones, 32, of Mobile, Alabama, a former wide receiver at the University of South Alabama, news outlets reported.
Prosecutors credited the strong evidence captured on surveillance video that showed Jones' movements from the time he arrived at the Golden Nugget casino in Biloxi on Sept. 18, 2021, until he chased Randy Johnson down and shot him 10 times.
Harrison County District Attorney Crosby Parker and Assistant District Attorney George Huffman called the killing an “execution.”
“Our defendant is chasing an unarmed man who’s running away from him, and he’s trying to tell you it’s self defense,” Parker said in closing arguments. “You wouldn’t buy that story anywhere else in your life. You wouldn’t buy it at work. You wouldn’t buy it at home. Don’t buy it here. It’s ridiculous. “
Johnson and a friend, Tamara Willis, had gone to the casino to celebrate her birthday and were in its bar for over an hour before Jones showed up. Willis testified that they didn’t know Jones, but he kept looking over at them. Jones eventually walked over and asked Johnson if he wanted “to take it outside.”
Willis said he told her it seemed Johnson was looking at him like he had "heels on.”
The two men walked to the parking garage and started fighting. Johnson threw the first two punches, surveillance video shows, and Jones fought back.
A gun and holster fell out of Jones' waistband. After seeing it, Johnson ran back into the casino, told Willis about the weapon and kept running around gaming tables and through the crowd. He tripped and fell, and Jones caught up with him and shot him.
“He was murdered for nothing. It’s just sad,” Erica Weary, Johnson’s cousin told WLOX-TV.
“That was overkill,” said another cousin, Jantail Thomas. “It really was.”
Thomas said she is glad that Jones was sentenced to life: “You take a life, you get yours taken too. I understand his family is hurting. ... we’re hurting too.”
Johnson's mother, Anetta Johnson, said she forgives Jones.
“I wish and pray that he would accept accountability,” she said. “I just thank the Lord and hopefully he will ask God to forgive him for his sins.”