Young Arlington rapper's killer gets 35-year sentence

Posted Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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A jury deliberated less than two hours before assessing a 35-year-sentence against Edward Earl Washington III for the murder of Jarami Thomas in 2011. Washington, 18, was convicted of murder on Monday.

The jury also assessed a $10,000 fine against him in state District Judge Ruben Gonzalez's court on Wednesday.

Washington, a member of an Arlington street gang called the Lynch Mob, also faced a charge of engaging in organized criminal activity and was found not guilty.

Washington faced a maximum 99-year prison sentence for his role in the slaying of Thomas, a 20-year-old Arlington man who was making a name for himself in the rap world, in a convenience store parking lot in the 3200 block of West Green Oaks Boulevard.

"It could have been worse and we knew that," said Washington's defense attorney, Mamie Bush Johnson. "We're grateful."

Washington's co-defendant in the case, Clevin Brown Jr., was sentenced to 50 years in prison after he was convicted of the slaying in April. Brown was identified as the shooter.

Thomas was targeted by Washington because he refused to pay a $40 Super Bowl bet made on Facebook, according to testimony. Prosecutors showed the jury dozens of text messages sent by Washington to Thomas and various other people threatening to kill Thomas for not paying the bet.

"I did not think I could hate someone as much as Clevin Brown but I hate you more because you set this whole thing up," Thomas' mother, Shirley Thomas, said during a victim's impact statement. "You've accomplished absolutely nothing in your whole miserable existence. Jarami left an indelible mark on the world. You left a stain."

Prosecutor Kevin Rousseau told the jury during his closing argument that the text messages illustrated the callousness of the slaying.

"I'm going to go to church first and then I'm going to smoke him," one text message from Washington said.

This is not a tragedy in the strictest sense, Rousseau said.

"This was premeditated, planned, announced in advance, executed and then acknowledged," he said.

Rousseau also said that Washington could not be rehabilitated.

"Do the right thing and put this man away for a long, long time," Rousseau said.

Washington's defense team reminded the jury that their client did not bring a gun to the fight that ended in Thomas' death and that testimony showed that. Johnson said her client was "young and dumb, only 17," when the slaying occurred on March 14, 2011.

"We understand that he's guilty of murder under the law of parties," Johnson said. "He's not been found guilty as a result of him having a gun in his hands. We know he's going to prison. But in all fairness, he never had a gun. That's got to count for something."

The law of parties is designed to treat conspirators equally culpable during the commission of a crime. Washington's other attorney, Robin McCarty, said that the prosecution's opinion that Washington is irredeemable, that he cannot be fixed, goes against everything good people are taught to believe.

"Is that what we believe as a society?" McCarty asked. "Is that what we hear in church? Do we say that young man will never be a member of society again?"

Prosecutor Tamla Ray said jurors should not be concerned that Washington did not bring a gun to Thomas' slaying because his partner, Brown, brought his gun.

"No one ever said he pulled the trigger," Ray said. "But Jarami Thomas would be here today had it not been for that man and his decisions. How old were you when you knew that murder was wrong?" Ray asked the jury.

Washington's father, Edward Washington Jr., said during an interview that he wished he had been more involved in his son's life. He and Washington's mother did not see eye-to-eye on a lot of things and his son was left to his own devices for the most part, the father said.

"I served some prison time, twice, both possession of a controlled substance cases," Washington said. "I spent about six years altogether. I just pray that God touches the jury's heart and that they have mercy on him and give him another chance."

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752

Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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