“It’s very hard for us to understand why this event occurred,” Judge Dixon said in sentencing Jones.
Police found Gray on October 15, 2011 around 11:00 pm suffering from gunshot wounds on the 2500 block of High Street Southeast. He was transported to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead. One week later Jones, 19, was arrested and held on suspicion of first-degree murder in Gray’s death.
Jones was initially found incompetent to stand trial by the D.C. Department of Mental Health, but mental health workers eventually found him fit to continue with court proceedings.
In April, Jones pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in connection with Gray’s death telling Judge Dixon, “I feared for my life. I’ve always had paranoid issues.”
Jones did not speak at his sentencing Friday.
Prosecutors claimed Friday that Jones has not taken any steps to avoid criminal behavior, and that a week before his sentencing, while in prison, Jones was involved in the assault of a prison inmate. But Amanda David, Jones’ defense attorney, argued in court that Jones has experienced a lot of “grief and tragedy,” in his life, and that his mental illness causes him to behave irrationally.
According to plea documents, the night of the murder Jones and Gray attended a birthday party where witnesses heard Jones say that “he had a problem” with Gray.
During a confrontation the two men stood outside a few feet away from each other. Jones pulled a gun from his waistband and fired a shot at Gray, Gray turned and ran toward Howard Road, documents state. Jones continued to shoot toward Gray until he dropped to the ground on his back. Jones fled the scene on foot.
Gray would later die at a local hospital from eight gunshot wounds to his body.
A press release from the US Attorney’s Office is below.
District Man Sentenced to 19 Years in Prison For 2011 Murder in Southeast Washington -Defendant Repeatedly Shot Victim Outside Birthday Party-
WASHINGTON – Antonio Jones, 21, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to 19 years in prison for killing a man who he encountered at a birthday party in Southeast Washington, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.
Jones pled guilty in April 2013 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to a charge of second-degree murder while armed. The plea, which called for a sentence of 16 to 19 years of incarceration, was contingent upon the approval of the Honorable Herbert B. Dixon Jr., who accepted it and sentenced the defendant today. Upon completion of his prison term, Jones will be placed on five years of supervised release.
According to the government’s evidence, on the night of Oct. 15, 2011, Jones encountered the victim, Davon Gray, 21, at a birthday party in the 2500 block of High Street SE. During the party, Jones socialized with Mr. Gray. However, outside of Mr. Gray’s presence, Jones stated that he had a problem with him. The two men, and others, remained outside even after people went indoors to sing happy birthday. Then, when Mr. Gray was about to leave, Jones stood a few feet across from him in a small group of people in the sidewalk area.
Jones then fired a semi-automatic pistol at Mr. Gray. Mr. Gray held his hands and forearms up in front of his face, turned and ran. Jones continued shooting at Mr. Gray’s back until he slowed and dropped to the ground. Jones than fled the scene on foot. An autopsy determined that Mr. Gray suffered a total of eight gunshot wounds to the body.
Mr. Gray did not have a weapon and had not threatened, assaulted, or otherwise provided Jones in any manner before the shooting. The government’s investigation showed no animosity on the part of Mr. Gray toward Jones. Jones was arrested on Oct. 21, 2011.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen commended the work of detectives, officers and crime scene technicians who investigated the case from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). He also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Marian Russell and Victim/Witness Advocate Marcia Rinker. Finally, he expressed appreciation for the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily A. Miller, who investigated and prosecuted the matter.