Markeda Holcomb-Brownlee said her daughter was “right there with me, holding me” Monday as she told the man who ended CreJonnia “C.J.” Bell’s life that she forgave him.
“I know deep down inside that you loved her. You needed help and you didn’t ask for help,” Ms. Holcomb-Brownlee told Tra-quawn Gibson in Lucas County Common Pleas Court. “I knew she loved you, but for you to take it upon yourself and be God, the sentence that you get, you got everything you deserve.”
Gibson, 19, of Toledo was ordered to spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole for the Nov. 18 aggravated murder of Ms. Bell, 19.
Judge Ruth Ann Franks also sentenced him to life in prison with parole eligibility after 15 years for the Oct. 18 slaying of Deontae Allen, 19, and an additional 30 years for felonious assault, aggravated robbery, participating in a criminal gang, and a firearms specification for shooting Limmie Reynolds III, now 21, and robbing Mr. Allen and Mr. Reynolds in the service of Gibson’s gang, the Moody Manor Boyz.
“His actions demonstrate that he has chosen a life where guns are accessories to his outfit and the lives of others are expendable and have no worth,” the judge said. “The cold, deadly nature of this man establishes clearly the sentence that this court shall impose.”
Judge Franks recounted Gibson’s lengthy record of juvenile delinquency as well as the sequence of events jurors heard during Gibson’s trial last week. She said he was not satisfied with shooting Mr. Allen and Mr. Reynolds but continued his violent rage on Ms. Bell, who had been his girlfriend.
“She was young. She was beautiful. She was educated,” Judge Franks said. “She had an ambition to be someone other than the defendant’s property.”
Prosecutors contended during his trial that Gibson killed Ms. Bell because she had broken up with him and because he feared she would go to police with what she knew about the Oct. 18 shooting of Mr. Allen and Mr. Reynolds.
The two men were sitting a in a parked car on Fernwood Avenue smoking marijuana the night Gibson approached the car, stuck a gun in Mr. Reynolds’ face with the words, “On Kent. Give it up.” When the two men jumped out of the car and ran, Gibson shot both of them.
Exactly a month later, Ms. Bell was shot multiple times outside a home on West Weber Street where Gibson had been staying.
“In those last moments of C.J. Bell’s life, she — just as Limmie Reynolds and Deontae Allen — found herself running for her life from the same man — you, Mr. Gibson, armed with a firearm,” Judge Franks said.
Gibson interrupted the judge at one point to say he “didn’t kill nobody.”
The judge dismissed his claim, saying that in her 30-plus years in the justice system, no one deserves a sentence of life without parole more than him.
Before sentencing, Denecia Addie told the court Mr. Allen was a best friend to her younger brother, Mr. Reynolds. She asked the court for the maximum sentence for Gibson.
“He is a monster that should never be allowed out because he has no respect for human life,” Ms. Addie said.
In a statement read to the court from Mr. Allen’s family, they said they had wanted to see Gibson get the death penalty, but they knew that was not a consideration for the court.
“He should never be able to see daylight ever again,” the family said. “He does not deserve to walk on the same soil as us. He is a hateful and cold-blooded murderer.”
Gibson did not make a statement when given the opportunity.
His attorney, Don Cameron, reminded the court Gibson had recently turned 18 when the crimes occurred. He said he came from a broken family and had almost no contact with his father.
“He is planning on appealing this,” Mr. Cameron said.