DALLAS - A Dallas County jury on Friday convicted one of the four men connected to the kidnapping and murder of a Lancaster teenager, and then sentenced him to 99 years in prison.
Jurors deliberated for only about two and a half hours before finding Desmond Jones guilty of organized criminal activity. The punishment phase immediately began, lasting only an hour, and the jury came back with the lengthy sentence.
Prosecutors said Jones led police to 13-year-old Shavon Randle’s body inside an abandoned Oak Cliff house in 2017. The body of her cousin, Michael Tutus, was also found in the house. Randle was kidnapped and held as ransom for stolen drugs. Even though she had nothing to do with the drugs, she was still shot multiple times.
It was during punishment phase testimony that two outbursts occurred in court, including one involving Jones.
As Jones’ sister was testifying for him, he stood up and made an outburst laced with expletives.
“[Bleep] don’t ever matter anymore, man, [bleep],” he said, as he was taken down by a bailiff and several deputies. They picked him up and removed him from the courtroom as stunned observers watched.
Deputies took him down and out of the court. The punishment phase continued with Jones in a holding cell outside of the courtroom.
Before that outburst, two men leaving court yelled out something to Jones, who then stood up and responded.
After the punishment was handed down, relatives of both victims said justice had been served.
“Somebody got to feel the hurt of this little girl being hurt. Somebody got to feel the hurt of Michael Titus being hurt. But most of all you got to feel the hurt for this young lady that had nothing to do with this,” said Eric Garnett, Titus’ brother.
“We feel relieved,” said Shaquana Persley, Shavon’s mother. “We’re not going get her back, but we feel… it’s an amazing feeling to know that we won’t see him on these streets no more to be able to do this to anybody else’s child.”
Defense attorneys for Jones argued in closing arguments his actions were compelled because he was under the threat of death from others in the conspiracy.
“You know he told the truth about what happened to Shavon Randle and Mike Titus because it’s corroborated by all of the evidence,” defense attorney Alan Fishburn said.
Defense co-counsel Jeff Lehman told jurors Jones was troubled and asked for them to confine him until middle age so he could get help.
Prosecutor Jennifer Falk said he would be the same scary person at age 60 as he is today
“Mr. Jones has done nothing but lie to every member in this audience, lie to every member of this jury, lie to every person he talks to,” said Falk.
No one has been charged with Randle’s murder.
Another suspect, Darius Fields, was sentenced to 18 years in prison on federal weapons violations. His girlfriend, Laporsha Polley, got four years.
This is the first state trial for the case. Devontae Owens and Laquon Wilkerson are still awaiting trial for engaging in organized criminal activity and aggravated kidnapping.
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