Man gets 17 years in prison for fatally shooting a man in New London
New London ― Calling it “another senseless murder,” New London Superior Court Judge Hillary Strackbein on Tuesday sentenced Jamir Johnson to 17 years in prison for shooting a man in the head at close range in a New London basement apartment in 2017.
“For what?” Strackbein asked.
The victim in the Dec. 9, 2017 killing was 21-year-old Quvonte “Q” Andre Gray, who spent time in New London and Florida. Gray was shot in an apartment at the intersection of Montauk Avenue and Orchard Street where Johnson and others had gathered, some smoking crack, police reports show. Police said Gray had been taunting Johnson and exchanged words with him on Orchard Street, such as “What are you looking at?”
Gray, carrying brass knuckles, had followed Johnson and another man to the 123 Montauk Ave. apartment. A witness told police Johnson shot Gray from about three feet away after Gray reached into his pocket “acting like he had a gun,” police said.
After telling witnesses “you better not say anything,” police said Johnson fled. Seven months later, after New London police secured a warrant for his arrest, Johnson was arrested as a suspect in dozens of car and home burglaries in the area of Halifax, Mass.
On July 31, 2018, Johnson was stopped by Halifax police on his bike wearing clothing and rubber gloves similar to those seen in surveillance video at one of the burglary victim’s homes, police said.
Johnson had faced more than 60 years in prison if convicted of murder and weapons charges at trial but had opted to accept a plea agreement offered from state prosecutors in February during jury selection for his trial.
New London County State’s Attorney Paul Narducci alluded to “a couple of issue that came up,” during trial preparations as well as Johnson’s self-defense claim that led to the offer that allowed Johnson to plead guilty to first-degree manslaughter with a firearm and carrying a pistol without a permit. Narducci called it a “reasonable disposition” under the circumstances.
Gray’s family, who live out of state, were not present in the courtroom at Tuesday’s sentencing but had expressed an objection to the proposed sentence to Victim Advocate LeeAnn Vertefeuille.
Johnson was represented by attorney Michael Blanchard, who said Johnson was 18 at the time of the crime and he had seen “quite a change” in Johnson since his arrest. Johnson is now 23. Blanchard said Johnson now has understanding of why, in the future, he should not be in this type of situation again. Because Johnson intends to be involved in prison rehabilitation programs, Blanchard said “he’s got a chance.”
Johnson did not mention his crime when he spoke in court but thanked his family for their support.
Johnson’s full sentence is 33 years suspended after 17 years in prison followed by five years of probation. Five years is the mandatory minimum for first-degree manslaughter with a firearm and one year in prison is the minimum in the pistol possession charge, Narducci said. Johnson had pleaded guilty under the Alford Doctrine, which means he does not agree with all of the state’s allegations but does not want to risk a stiffer sentence as the result of a trial.
Johnson turned to family in the courtroom gallery as he was led away in handcuffs, smiling and telling them, “I love you.”
Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.