Jury deliberations will continue Thursday in the penalty phase of trial for a man convicted of the robbery-motivated murders of an MTV music coordinator and another man killed about a week apart in Los Angeles.
The jury will recommend whether 31-year-old Jabaar Vincent Thomas should be sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole for the killings of Gabriel Aron Ben-Meir and Marcelo Aragon.
“You’ve already dealt justice … A life penalty for Mr. Thomas is not a pass,” defense attorney Keith Bowman told the Los Angeles Superior Court jury on Wednesday.
Thomas’ lawyer told the jury that it was the defense’s belief that life imprisonment is “the appropriate sentence and death is not.”
Deputy District Attorney John McKinney urged jurors Tuesday to recommend that Thomas be executed for the “cold-blooded executions” of “random strangers.”
“Both of these victims were executed without provocation,” the prosecutor said in his closing argument, noting that Thomas had been released on parole from prison less than five months earlier for possession of a sawed- off shotgun.
Thomas, 31, interrupted the prosecutor’s closing argument Tuesday, 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.
Thomas was convicted March 11 of the May 8, 2011, murder of Ben-Meir, a 30-year-old MTV music coordinator, near his mid-Wilshire apartment building and the April 30, 2011, shooting death of Aragon, 35, in the Pico-Union area.
The same panel convicted him of two counts of first-degree murder and 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.
The crimes occurred between April 29 and May 10, 2011.
— Wire reports