After change of plea, Liberty Arsenal shooter sentenced to life plus 50 years
ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Ramonte Jackson, the 24-year-old man from Alexandria who prosecutors said pulled the trigger and killed the owner of Liberty Arsenal in Libuse on May 7, 2021 and critically injured the owner’s brother, has pleaded guilty to the crimes.
Jackson, who was facing the death penalty for the deadly shooting of David Paul, 52, decided to change his plea this week, making it official Thursday morning. Jackson pleaded guilty to a count of first-degree murder for the death of Paul, and a new charge of attempted-first degree murder, for the shooting that almost killed Paul’s brother, Michael. Prosecutors said in court that the shooting happened in the commission of an attempted robbery at the store.
Jackson is one of five people who was arrested in connection with the shooting. One of the other suspects, Cliron Price, also pleaded guilty in Sept. 2021 for his role in the crime. He’s set to be sentenced Sept. 19, 2022.
Judge Chris Hazel sentenced Jackson to life in prison on the first-degree murder conviction and 50 years in prison for the attempted first-degree murder conviction. The sentences will run consecutively and are both without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence. Both crimes were designated as crimes of violence.
Jackson had no reaction during the sentencing.
The front row of the courtroom was filled with family of the victims. Members of law enforcement and the Rapides Parish Police Jury filled remaining rows.
Rebecca Paul, David Paul’s wife, addressed Jackson in her victim impact statement before the court.
“You made a choice to go into my husband’s business and take his life and attempted to take the life of his brother,” she said. “The pain, you can’t describe.”
Rebecca Paul spoke about the wedding she’s planning for the couple’s daughter, one that David won’t be there for.
“He still had lots of life to live,” she said. “You chose to end his life. [...] I hope when you are sitting in prison, you have a lot of time to think about the things you are missing because you made a poor choice that day.”
Mary Treadway, David and Michael’s sister, spoke next.
“The grief I felt after David was murdered is like no grief I’ve experienced,” said Treadway. “I will never want to be able to understand taking human life with no remorse.”
Treadway spoke of the days following David’s murder, as Michael recovered in the hospital.
“We had to plan a funeral for David knowing Michael wouldn’t be there to say goodbye,” she said. “In taking David’s life, you took a part of mine. You made a woman a widow and a daughter fatherless. [...] I have prayed for forgiveness and come up empty.”
Michael Paul was able to be at court for Jackson’s sentencing. He finally got the chance to address his brother’s killer, the man who also almost killed him.
“There isn’t a whole lot I can say to you,” said Michael Paul. “If you have any brain in your head, you know what’s going on - you’re going to hell.”
“You signing your name (on the plea agreement) made you a bigger man than pulling that trigger,” he continued. He also told Jackson that he forgave him about three or four days ago.
“You did your damndest to kill me, but you didn’t. God wanted me here,” said Paul.
The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant District Attorney Hugo Holland, Assistant District Attorney Christopher Bowman, and First Assistant District Attorney Monica Doss.
District Attorney Phillip Terrell was present for the plea and sentencing.
“From day one, the sheriff’s office investigators and Sheriff Wood, we were all out there at the scene. It was a horrible, heinous crime,” said Terrell. “This wrapped up faster than we thought it would; we are very relieved. He will serve life in prison and then he serves another 50 years, so effectively he’ll be in prison the rest of his life.”
Jackson was represented by Kyla Blanchard-Romanach, a capital defense attorney.
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