By Linda Looney-Bond
A Riverdale man was found guilty in Clayton County Superior Court Wednesday of shooting to death another man, in a case of apparent mistaken identity.
A jury convicted Anthony O'Neil Gibbs, 25, on all eight counts against him in the death of Kevin Jean-Jacques, 20, according to Clayton County Chief Assistant District Attorney Erman Tanjuatco.
The shooting death occurred Sept. 19, 2007 at the Majic Food Mart at 728 Mt. Zion Rd., in Jonesboro.
Judge Albert Collier sentenced Gibbs to life, plus 10 years in prison, to run consecutively, Tanjuatco said.
Gibbs received the life sentence for one count of malice murder. He also received five years for a count of possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime, and five years for one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon - for a total of life, plus ten years, according to Tanjuatco.
Two counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, and two additional counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime merged with the other charges for sentencing purposes.
Tanjuatco said Gibbs was already a convicted felon, due to a prior conviction for cocaine possession.
According to the prosecution, Gibbs shot Jean-Jacques because he had mistaken him for Jean-Jacques' brother, Allandale Jean-Jacques, who went by the street name "Dirty."
Gibbs believed that "Dirty" was one of three men who shot Gibbs and a friend in 2005, leaving Gibbs with multiple gunshot wounds, and his friend with a gunshot wound to the right eye, according to Clayton County Assistant District Attorney Sheryl Freeman, who assisted Tanjuatco in the case.
Tanjuatco also credited intern Travis Meyer, of the district attorney's office, with providing significant help in investigating the case.
"I believe the verdict spoke the truth," Tanjuatco said Wednesday, about the guilty verdict against Gibbs. "They [the jury] came back rather quickly."
The state and the defense had rested their cases Wednesday afternoon, and the jury came back with the verdict before 5 p.m.
"It's just another unfortunate event, where a person [who was] wronged, took matters into his own hands, and harmed a person," said Tanjuatco.
"He's going to appeal," said James Studdard, Gibbs' attorney. "The jury was out for about 41 minutes. It reminded me of the O.J. Simpson case, in reverse," said Studdard. "They had 20 photographs and a lot of papers to consider. I think they had their minds made up before they went out [for deliberations]," Studdard said.
Studdard had urged the jury not to believe the one, eye witness, Alfred Wheeler, who named Gibbs as the shooter. Wheeler, a friend of Kevin Jean-Jacques, testified that he was in the car with Jean-Jacques when the shooting occurred.
"The [Majic Food Mart] clerk saw nothing, everyone in the store saw nothing. So, we've got to rely solely on Alfred Wheeler," said Studdard, during closing arguments.
Studdard also reminded the jury that a Clayton County Police officer had testified that there was no evidence that a shooting occurred in the parking lot of the convenience store.
Tanjuatco told the jury, during closing arguments, that the evidence had shown that Gibbs shot Jean-Jacques out of revenge and mistaken identity. "He chose to be the judge; he chose to be the jury; he chose to be the executioner," he said.
Gibbs has 30 days to appeal, according to Studdard. He will not be eligible for parole for 30 years, according to Tanjuatco.