Brian Keith Jones Jr., a one-time member of a white supremacist prison gang, received a 58-years-to-life prison term Friday for murdering a black man in the streets of Foothill Farms in 2012.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Marjorie Koller’s voice hardened after she thumbed through the 26-year-old’s probation report that detailed his criminal résumé leading up to the night of the killing.
It began at age 14, when he kicked off his career with an arrest for car theft, receiving stolen property, possession of burglary tools, resisting arrest, and hit and run. Methamphetamine entered his picture the next year, his record showed. At 16, he stole a car and crashed into another driver and put him in a hospital with a broken pelvis, broken ribs, a broken clavicle and a brain hemorrhage.
Moving into adulthood, Jones once tried to drive off to get away from a police officer who had grabbed him by the arm, and he wound up dragging the lawman 10 to 15 yards. He went to prison for assault on the officer, got out, and went right back in again when police tried to pull him over on a traffic stop and he punched the accelerator instead. Jones’ speeds tipped 90 miles per hour and he ran through red lights and stop signs before he spun out, ran, and threw his handgun away. Police chased him down, retrieved the gun, and also found him in possession of brass knuckles, a folding knife and a meth pipe.
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Three months after his last parole, Jones, on Dec. 8, 2012, shot and killed Duane Lomax, 36.
“It is notable and hard to ignore the defendant has had a consistent record since 2002,” Koller said from the bench. “You have to work at it to be that consistent. He has continued with jail misbehavior. He has shown a complete disdain for conformity, which is well documented by his criminal history and his misconduct. He has had an utter disregard for anyone other than himself.”
As a youngster, Jones testified at his murder trial, he marked himself with a tattooed swastika, another designation that reads “White Power” and a third on his neck that says “Pure Hate.” Authorities have identified him as a member of the “Sacramaniacs” prison gang, a white supremacist outfit.
Jones denied on the witness stand that he still professed racial hatred at the time he shot and killed Lomax.
He said the shooting was self-defense.
The night of the killing, his sister and her female friend got into a traffic disagreement on Watt Avenue with Lomax, an Atlanta man who was in town to attend his 3-year-old son’s birthday party, according to testimony at trial.
Thinking he saw the friend of Jones’ sister flash a gun at him, Lomax told police dispatchers in a 911 call that he followed the women into what turned out to be the Foothill Farms neighborhood where the defendant lived.
At the same time Lomax was on the phone with 911, Jones’ sister dialed up the defendant, using a racial epithet to describe the man who was following them in the car behind, according to her own testimony.
Jones went looking for the two cars and found them on Predial Way, coming at him from the other direction. He said he let his sister’s car pass before he cut off Lomax and confronted him with the handgun. Jones said Lomax tried to run him over. Authorities said that when Lomax saw the gun, he swung a U-turn and had headed in the opposite direction, before Jones unloaded his pistol and killed Lomax with a bullet to the neck.
“When I heard the 911 tape of Duane’s last words, making his decision to leave and trying to find his way out of the area he was in, and his panic of seeing a man shooting at him, and the sounds of what appeared to be him dying, and then silence – my heart was torn apart,” Pattie Lomax, the victim’s mother, said in court Friday.
“Consequently, I’ll always remember his last words, of panic and fright.”
In her cross-examination of Jones, Deputy District Attorney Donell Slivka strongly suggested that Jones’ racism was the reason for the killing. No hate- crime allegation was filed, however, and the prosecutor did not return to the racial angle on Friday when she implored the judge to sentence Jones to as much time as possible.
“Mr. Jones has shown a propensity for violence against anyone, be it law enforcement or innocent individuals like Duane Lomax,” Slivka said. “On the night of Dec. 8, 2012, Mr. Jones took the law into his own hands and made a decision to take the life of Duane Lomax, while Duane Lomax was on a call with 911 to report what he believed to be a crime against him. Mr. Jones never gave a chance for this incident to resolve as it should have.”
Slivka said Jones’ sister pleaded with him to not use his gun, and that when Lomax saw the weapon, he tried to get away.
“But Mr. Jones would have none of it,” Slivka said, “and he leaped out of his vehicle, and he literally emptied his gun into the victim’s car, even as the victim tried desperately to turn and drive away,” Slivka said.
“Mr. Jones has no respect for human life, and he has shown no remorse for his conduct,” the prosecutor concluded.
Jones did not speak at the sentencing hearing. His defense attorney, Robert J. Saria, also declined comment.
The defendant’s friends and family filled three rows of the courtroom Friday, and some of them broke into sobs when Koller read the sentence. A woman who identified herself as Jones’ wife wore a T-shirt that said “Self defense is not a crime” on the front, and “Free my husband, Brian Jones” on the back. She declined to comment on the case.
Besides the victim’s mother, his father, Freeman Lomax, read a statement to the court. The slain man’s sister delivered a taped memorial, and Slivka read two more statements into the record, including one from Lomax’s daughter, whose name was withheld by the prosecutor.
“I lay in my bed sometimes unable to sleep,” the girl said, “wondering what thoughts were going through my father’s head as he slowly bled to death, alone. This is what bothers me the most.”