LaCosta Williams Sr. was a 33-year-old father and a barber who would cut neighborhood children’s hair for free.
On Oct. 27, 2014, he was taking care of his two young sons at Columbus’ now-demolished Booker T. Washington Apartments when four men came through the apartment’s rear door and tried to rob him, believing he had money and drugs.
A struggle ensued, during which Williams fatally was shot, his two sons witnessing the assault.
Followed by his 7-year-old, Williams walked out the apartment’s front door and collapsed. The other boy, age 3, followed the would-be robbers out the back door. Witnesses said they ran toward Sixth Avenue.
Four suspects were set to go to trial for murder Monday in Williams’ homicide, before their negotiated guilty pleas to reduced charges precluded what could have been a long and complicated case.
They were Stephen Douglas James, Corey Deandre Jenkins, Jamar Rashawn Warner and Reginald Martinez Warren.
James, 24, who fired the fatal shots, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, three counts of aggravated assault, two counts of third-degree cruelty to children and one count each of using a firearm to commit a felony, being a convicted felon with a gun, and trying to possess drugs within 1,000 feet of a public housing complex.
James was convicted of burglary on Feb. 5, 2010, according to court records.
Superior Court Judge William Rumer sentenced him to 30 years in prison with 20 to serve and 10 on probation. The judge also ordered James to pay Williams’ family $7,000 in restitution for the funeral.
Rumer sentenced Jenkins, 31, to 10 years in prison with eight to serve and two on probation. He pleaded guilty to attempting to possess cocaine and two counts of third-degree child cruelty.
Jenkins pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter on Sept. 22, 2003, and was sentenced to serve 10 years of a 20-year sentence. He and Ricardo Luis Vasquez were charged in the Sept. 28, 2002, fatal shooting of Terrance Gary. Vasquez also pleaded to voluntary manslaughter in that case.
The judge sentenced Warren, 27, to serve eight years of a 12-year sentence on charges of aggravated assault, having drugs in a public housing area and two counts of third-degree child cruelty.
Warren was convicted of theft by receiving stolen property on Oct. 11, 2008.
The judge sentenced Warner, 26, to five years in prison and five on probation on charges of attempting to have marijuana in a public housing area, two counts of third-degree child cruelty and misdemeanor possession of marijuana, the latter incident on Oct. 31, 2014.
Warner was convicted of robbery on Aug. 9, 2013, court records show. He was charged in the Aug. 22, 2012, armed robbery of the La Mexicana de Columbus, 3305 Victory Drive. Also charged in that case was Michael Jerome Johnson, later convicted of killing Gold & Silver Trading Center manager Steve Toms during a robbery on Nov. 15, 2011. Johnson was sentenced to life without parole on June 29, 2015.