Fort Worth man convicted of aggravated robbery after slaying of teen

Posted Friday, Feb. 15, 2013  Print Reprints
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FORT WORTH -- One of three men accused of fatally shooting a recent Everman High School graduate as he played video games in his home was convicted Friday of aggravated robbery.

Tarrant County prosecutors had argued that Dominique Jones, now 21, of Fort Worth should be convicted of capital murder for the robbery/slaying of Daniel Garner, 18, who lived with his mother on Fort Worth's south side.

After deliberating for less than five hours, the jury chose the lesser crime. The sentencing phase began immediately afterward.

Had Jones been convicted of capital murder, he would have received an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The maximum sentence that can be handed down on the aggravated robbery conviction is 99 years.

Prosecutors told the jury that two other men are also responsible for Garner's death.

Damian Lamon Murkledove, 21, of Fort Worth was convicted in April and is serving a life sentence without parole. Bryan Alonzo Jones, 26, no relation to Dominique Jones, is free on bail awaiting trial on a capital murder charge.

Murkledove was identified as the shooter in Garner's slaying.

Mark Thielman, a Tarrant County prosecutor, told the jury during his closing statements Friday that without Dominique Jones' input, the crime might never have happened.

Dominique Jones' attorney, Steve Gordon, told the jury that Murkledove was the executioner and that his client was guilty of the offense of burglary or possibly robbery, but not of murder.

Authorities said several items were taken after Garner was shot, including a rifle, a small safe where Garner's mother kept medications for the foster children she cared for, purses, a computer, two gaming systems and a large flat-screen television

"Bryan Jones and Murkledove didn't know about the treasure trove of electronics in his house," Thielman said. "Bryan Jones and Murkledove didn't know about the gun under the bed. Bryan Jones and Murkledove didn't know about the lockbox where the medicine was. Bryan Jones and Murkledove did not even know where the house was."

The last time Karen Clerkley, Garner's mother, saw her son alive was when she returned home for lunch on the afternoon of Feb. 19, 2010. Clerkley testified on Tuesday that when she arrived home that day, her son was still in his pajamas.

Clerkley told the jury that she reminded Garner to take out the garbage and told him to change.

Garner was between jobs, Clerkley testified. Her son had been laid off after working a Christmas season job for United Parcel Service, Clerkley said. Garner graduated from Everman High School a few weeks earlier, she said.

"He was playing a game in the living room," Clerkly said. "He would stand up and play the game right in front of the TV, even though the TV was big."

That's where prosecutors said Garner was standing when he was ambushed. It's a safe assumption that when he took out the garbage, Garner forgot to lock the door, Thielman said.

"When they came in, they start shooting," Thielman said. "He runs out of his houseshoes into his mother's bedroom and then he runs out of room to run. He runs out of time."

First, they shot him in the back while he was running and while his hands were up, Thielman said during closing arguments. Garner had surrendered, Thielman said. Then, Murkledove shot him three times as he lay on the floor of his mother's bedroom, Thielman said.

"In order to get the purses, you have to step over Daniel's body," Thielman said. "In order to get the purses, you have to step over Daniel's dead body."

Dominique Jones gave the purses to his grandmother, Thielman said. Stepping over a dead man's body to retrieve something to steal is behavior that sends a man to prison, Thielman said.

Dominique Jones was not aware that a gun would be used, argued Gordon, his defense attorney.

Jones went to the house to commit a burglary, with no intent to use a weapon, Gordon said. His client, as young men sometimes do, made an error in judgment, he said.

"Stupid decisions like going over to another man's house with a group of young men and trying to scare someone," Gordon said. "Both these mothers raised their children better than this."

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752

Twitter: @mitchmitchel3