Now 22 years old, Marquavious Howard could spend the rest of his life in prison after a jury convicted him Wednesday of murder and aggravated assault in the April 30, 2017, fatal shooting of Jakorbin King.
The homicide stemmed from a robbery scheme hatched by three Phenix City youths defense attorney Mike Garner called “the Three Stooges of crime,” because their actions leading up to the fatal home invasion sounded absurdly inept.
Testimony showed they planned to rob King of marijuana, but one lost his father’s gun and an expensive pair of glasses when King and some guests chased them out of King’s 1010 33rd St. apartment, making them tumble down the stairs outside.
The one who lost the gun later enlisted Howard, then his sister’s boyfriend, to help him retrieve it, and Howard shot King when King again fought back against the intruders.
The jury announced it had a verdict shortly after 11 a.m. Wednesday, having deliberated about 3½ hours. It found Howard guilty of felony murder for killing King while committing the felony of aggravated assault, and aggravated assault. It found him not guilty of malice or intentional murder and not guilty of using a gun to commit a felony.
Judge Gil McBride is to sentence Howard at 10 a.m. Friday in a courtroom at Columbus Recorder’s Court, adjacent to the Muscogee County Jail.
Outside the courtroom after the verdict, King’s grandparents Grover and Dell King said they were satisfied with the jury’s decision, and hoped McBride would sentence Howard to life without parole.
They and godmother Bonnie Woodall described King as a cheerful, amiable young man with a generous smile. He loved skateboarding, and frequented the Cuckoo’s Nest Skate Shop at 1250 Broadway in downtown Columbus.
The grandparents said King’s father is deceased, and his mother is in a nursing home with multiple sclerosis, so she could not attend the trial. King’s brothers Jayen Table, Jakyon Table and Matvais King kept up with the testimony for her, they said. “They looked up to their brother,” Dell King said.
The three codefendants Howard’s attorney called “The Three Stooges” are Samuel Jones and Tyler Fitzgerald Teal, who both were 17 at the time; and Tramal Lee Williams, who was 16, but charged as an adult.
According to testimony, Tramal Williams went to King’s apartment to buy some marijuana on April 29, 2017, and then he and his friends drove around to smoke it.
Later they devised a plan to go back and rob King, 21, who kept his marijuana in a glass jar. Garner said Tramal Williams, Jones and Teal at that time were accompanied by two others who were never charged.
Jones took his father’s pistol, and Teal had a BB gun. Tramal Williams testified he went into King’s apartment under the pretense of buying more marijuana, then grabbed the jar and ran.
King had some friends over to celebrate a birthday, and he and his guests all rushed the teens, pushing them out the door and down the stairs beyond. The intruders dropped the marijuana, and Jones lost his shoes, a $400 pair of glasses, and his father’s pistol.
Jones called his sister Jylonda Jones in Birmingham, and she agreed to drive over with Howard to help recover their father’s gun.
Jylonda Jones and Howard arrived here in her white Toyota Camry about 6 a.m., then picked up her brother, Teal and Tramal Williams, and headed for King’s home, said Assistant District Attorney Chris Williams.
They broke through the apartment door and went in looking for the gun, but couldn’t find it, so they left. But then Howard noted the door to King’s bedroom had been locked, so they had not searched that room, the prosecutor said.
The only people in the apartment when the five suspects returned were King and a girlfriend, who were in the bedroom, where King prepared to defend himself. An avid skateboarder, he picked up a broken skateboard to use as a weapon.
He snatched the door open and charged at the intruders, crashing into Howard and bloodying Howard’s lip, Chris Williams said.
Howard pulled a .40-caliber pistol and opened fire, hitting King three times in his torso and once in his head, the prosecutor said. Police called to reports of someone shot found King dead in his home about 7 a.m.
Detectives piecing the story together soon picked up all five suspects. On Jan. 18, a Muscogee County grand jury indicted them all on charges of malice or intentional murder, felony murder for allegedly killing King while committing the felony of aggravated assault and aggravated assault.
Samuel Jones, Tramal Williams and Teal faced additional charges of armed robbery and aggravated assault for the robbery the day before King was killed.
But those charges changed as prosecutors negotiated plea deals in exchange for testimony. Jylonda Jones, who testified against her former boyfriend, pleaded guilty only to misdemeanor offenses of loitering, criminal trespass, obstructing police and reckless conduct. Garner told jurors she will be sentenced to four years’ probation.
Teal and Jones pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, and their other charges were dropped. They also are to be sentenced Friday. Though he testified against Howard, Tramal Williams has not yet pleaded guilty to any charges.
Today Jones and Teal are 18. Tramal Williams is 17, and Jylonda Jones is 24.