It would have been a first-degree murder case, except that the victim, when he was shot, had a gun and a criminal history. And the defendants, both handicapped, were older than your average murder suspect.
Those facts before a jury might not have led to acquittal, but they would likely have led a jury to find a much lesser crime than first-degree murder; a crime like manslaughter, Prosecutor Todd Gee said today, explaining the government’s plea agreement with Timothy Foreman and Carl Purvis.
Foreman and Purvis appeared separately before Judge Thomas Motley today for sentencing. Not on murder, but on manslaughter. Their plea agreements with the government outlined a period of incarceration of nine to thirteen years. But first Gee had to convince Motley that even 13 years was a significant enough period of time to compensate for fatally shooting Gregory Joyner.
“I couldn’t agree with the court more, this is an unusual case,” said Gee. “The defendants effectively gunned the decedent down over an argument.”
According to sentencing documents in the case, Purvis and Foreman have agreed with the government that:
A few days prior to November 15. 2011, Gregory Joyner… robbed Darryl Purvis, the brother of Carl Purvis, and took several items. As a result, on Novemher 15, at approximately 9:15 Carl Purvis and Timothy Foreman, who are long-time friends, were walking in the rear of 243 Street SW in Washington, D.C., where they encountered [Gregory Joyner]. After an exchange of words, Carl Purvis and Timothy Foreman each used semi-automatic firearms to shoot [Joyner] multiple times. [Joyner] was armed with a handgun at the time of his death, although he did not pull it out or otherwise threaten the defendants with it… [Joyner] died on November 15, 2010 as a result of gunshot wounds.
Both Purvis, 46, and Foreman, 36, are handicapped; Purvis uses a wheelchair and Foreman walks with the aid of a cane.
Joyner was 28-years-old when he was killed and is survived by a 14-year-old child.
Joyner’s family was at D.C. Superior Court Friday for the sentencing, but declined to speak before the court. As Gee described Joyner’s killing, one woman ran sobbing from the courtroom, only to return a few moments later to witness the end of the hearing.
“There’s no number [of years of incarceration] that’s ever going to bring him back,” Gee told Motley of Joyner.
But, he said of the manslaughter plea and alluding to Joyner’s criminal history and carrying of a weapon, “the case certainly had issues.”
With noticeable hesitation, Motley accepted the sentencing guidelines in the plea agreement. To the full but silent courtroom he asked:
“The punishment for taking a human life. What should that be?”
Foreman, a few moments later, quietly answered:
“I really don’t know, Your Honor.”
Motley imposed on each man a sentence of 13 years.