Three men, including one already serving a life prison term in a 2010 slaying in north Baton Rouge, each were sentenced to 15 years behind bars Thursday on drug charges stemming from another north Baton Rouge killing in 2013.
Jarvis Fleming, of Greenwell Springs, and Julius Thomas and Darren Paul, both of Baton Rouge, were indicted two years ago on counts of principal to second-degree murder in the shooting death of Donald Ray Walls but pleaded guilty in August to possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
Fleming, 24, was convicted last December in the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Daniel Smith on Oct. 23, 2010, on Osage Street near Plank Road. Smith was shot eight times and found in his running car.
At the time of that shooting, Fleming was free on $80,000 bail and awaiting trial on a second-degree murder charge in the 2010 shooting.
Paul, 22, was paralyzed in the 2013 shooting and appeared in court Thursday in a wheelchair. Thomas is 25.
State District Judge Tony Marabella, who presides over the 19th Judicial District Drug Court, noted that 85 percent of the crimes committed in East Baton Rouge Parish are related to drugs in some way.
“Reality is this was a drug deal gone bad,” the judge said, calling the death of the 26-year-old Walls tragic. “The sad commentary here is that there is a man who is dead.”
Marabella ordered Fleming’s 15-year term to run consecutively to his life sentence in the 2010 case.
Multiple shots were fired in the 2013 shooting, the judge said, and there were questions about who shot Walls and whether shots were fired in self-defense.
“This is a very difficult case,” he added.
“It’s a shame someone died, but there was no way of telling who started the gun play,” said Fleming’s attorney, Bo Rougeou.
“But there was evidence showing everyone was there for drugs, either as a buyer or seller.”
Walls was killed Aug. 2, 2013, at a mobile home park in the 7100 block of Greenwell Street. Police have said Fleming, Thomas and Paul went to the trailer park to sell marijuana to Walls and another man.
Fleming — as part of the conditions of his 2010 bail — was supposed to wear a court-ordered tracking bracelet on his ankle at the time of the 2013 shooting, but authorities discovered when they arrested him that the device had been removed and discarded.