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Published: Friday, 6/11/2010

Man gets 18 years to life for murder of Toledoan, 45

Jerome Nobles Jerome Nobles

Albert James said he could talk all day about his son - a man who worked hard, took care of his family, and met death too early as a result of a bullet fired from a gun held by Jerome Nobles.

"People come to me and say, 'I know what you're going through.' That's impossible unless they've been through what my family has been through," Mr. James said in Lucas County Common Pleas Court yesterday. "My son Curtis James was a hard worker, never bothered anyone. He did not deserve this."

Nobles, 19, was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison yesterday after being convicted last month of murder with a gun specification. A jury of nine women and three men deliberated for about eight hours over two days before reaching the verdict.

Nobles was arrested Dec. 20, just after the 12:30 a.m. shooting on Tecumseh Street, where Curtis James lived. Police responding to the scene followed a set of footprints through the snow to a home in the 1400 block of Belmont Avenue where Nobles was found.

Also discovered at the address, hidden in a crawl space, was a .38 revolver containing two bullets and with three rounds missing.

Several witnesses testified over the four-day trial, including law enforcement, Tecumseh Street neighbors, and experts in DNA and shoe-print analysis. The jury also saw a video recording of Nobles' statement to police after his arrest.

John Thebes, Nobles' attorney, told Judge Gary Cook that his client intends to appeal the jury's verdict.

In a nearly 30-minute statement to the judge, Nobles attacked the evidence, criticized the witnesses, and insisted he did not have a fair trial.

Several times during the statement, Judge Cook clarified the evidence that was presented at the trial and asked Nobles to not speak on issues that would be raised on appeal.

Assistant County Prosecutor Michael Loisel pointed to Nobles' wordy statement as proof that he "refuses to take responsibility for his actions."

"Curtis James' life was senselessly taken that day, taken by Jerome Nobles," he said.

Although noting that he had no discretion in issuing the sentence, Judge Cook said that he felt it was the "appropriate sentence in this case." He sentenced Nobles to life in prison with parole possible after 15 years for the murder conviction plus a consecutive three years for the gun specification.

"Your juvenile court record does speak volumes about you, as does your behavior here in court today," he said.

Though not presented as evidence in his trial, Nobles had been released less than a week before from juvenile prison for an aggravated robbery conviction when the murder was committed.

Mr. James, whose son was 45, said he recognized that the Nobles family was impacted as well. "We have no animosity for the Nobles family. We know the family didn't do this," he said. "But they will be able to go see their son. We won't be able to see my son again."

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