Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Aiding Police Nets Lighter Sentences; Two Involved in Man's Death Get 15, 25 Years

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Aiding Police Nets Lighter Sentences; Two Involved in Man's Death Get 15, 25 Years

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrew Pantazi

Just a year and a half after an assistant police chief stood before reporters and said three men could be tied to seven different Jacksonville murders, police and prosecutors spoke in court on behalf of two of those men, asking for lighter sentences

On Friday, Lewis Braclet and Brandon Roundtree were sentenced on second-degree murder charges in the death of Keith Thompson. Thompson was shot and killed after he broke into Braclet's home and tried to steal drugs and money. Braclet's own surveillance system captured him walking around Thompson with a gun. Eventually, Keith Jackson shot and killed Thompson.

Jackson was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison last month.

It turns out Braclet and Roundtree, now 25 and 26, pleaded guilty when they were arrested in April, but those pleas were sealed. This sentencing hearing was unlike most others, in which prosecutors ask for a long sentence and defendants ask for leniency.

Instead, the prosecutor joined the defense in asking the judge for mercy. The lead homicide detective talked about the defendants' cooperation and even about their music skills, in particular how impressed he was with Braclet. Even Thompson's mother said she prayed God would bless the two men.

Braclet and Roundtree, assistant state attorney London Kite explained, helped law enforcement as soon as they were arrested, before they were ever offered leniency. They admitted their own roles - Braclet shot his gun, Roundtree stood by a fence gate - and led police to more evidence. Even when a notorious jail gang repeatedly threatened them and their families, Kite said, they continued to help.

Any defense attorney would tell a suspect that it's not a good idea to talk when arrested, but Kite said that's not the way it should be. They should be rewarded for their apparent remorse and helpfulness.

"When they were caught running from police, they immediately started telling about their own involvement, to their own detriment. And I am a big proponent: It shouldn't be to their own detriment." She said their participation cut against the no-snitching culture of the streets, and it helped her prosecute a gang member. …

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