Photo via Shutterstock
Photo via Shutterstock

A man was sentenced to two consecutive life prison terms without the possibility of parole Wednesday for a crime spree that included the robbery-motivated murder of an MTV music coordinator and the slaying of another man in the spring of 2011.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephen A. Marcus called Jabaar Vincent Thomas a “cold-blooded murderer” who should never be released from custody.

“I believe that this defendant is deserving of this sentence because of the reign of terror …,” the judge said, referring to Thomas’ crime spree.

The judge said what he found most striking was the “complete lack of remorse” by the 31-year-old defendant involving crimes against victims who offered no resistance.

Thomas was convicted in March of first-degree murder for the May 8, 2011 shooting death of Gabriel Ben-Meir, a 30-year-old MTV music coordinator, near his mid-Wilshire apartment building, and the April 30, 2011 shooting death of Marcelo Aragon, a 35-year-old father of two, in the Pico-Union area.

Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegations of murder during the commission of a robbery or attempted robbery involving both victims and multiple murders, along with allegations that Thomas personally and intentionally discharged a shotgun.

Thomas also was convicted of five counts of robbery, one involving the attack on Ben-Meir, and three counts of attempted robbery — one involving the attack on Aragon — and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon. Jurors deadlocked on a sixth robbery charge that was dismissed at the sentencing hearing. The crimes occurred between April 29 and May 10, 2011.

The same jury that convicted Thomas deadlocked March 25 on whether to recommend a death sentence or life in prison. Prosecutors announced in April that they were not seeking to retry Thomas’ penalty phase.

Ben-Meir’s father, Nick, told the judge that he and his family were “deeply affected” by Thomas’ actions.

“I don’t think that we’ll ever really recover,” he said. He called Thomas “a dangerous person” who should never be allowed to confront anyone else in a similar manner.

Several of the jurors who heard the case against Thomas returned to court for his sentencing.

“This trial affected us deeply as well,” said Samantha Chan, one of the jurors. “You can’t help but feel for the families.”

During his closing argument in the trial’s penalty phase, Deputy District Attorney John McKinney told jurors, “Both of these victims were executed without provocation.”

The prosecutor noted that Thomas had been released on parole from prison less than five months earlier for possession of a sawed-off shotgun.

Thomas interrupted the prosecutor’s closing argument at one point, yelling that he was “tired of sitting here and having my name slandered for something I didn’t do.” The judge warned Thomas outside the jury’s presence not to make any more statements.

One of Thomas’ attorneys, Keith Bowman, told jurors that “a life penalty for Mr. Thomas is not a pass.”

Thomas is expected to file an appeal.

Two others who had been charged along with Thomas in the robbery spree pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

—City News Service

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