Asked why he was carrying two loaded guns in his waistband, gang member Akeem R. Jones responded: “Because one might run out.”
Prosecutors are wondering when luck will run out for the 22-year-old man who has been shot on four occasions and who beat first-degree murder and first-degree assault charges after being charged in separate shootings.
Jones — whose gang name is “Grimey” — escaped a felony conviction again Tuesday.
Though a judge gave him the maximum sentence for two counts of carrying a concealed weapon — one year in jail — Jones originally had faced up to 20 years in prison on a charge of possessing a stolen firearm.
That caused one of his fellow gang members to declare outside the courtroom: “We won.”
And it caused Douglas County prosecutor Nissa Jones to lament that Akeem Jones has yet to be deemed a felon.
“It's 100 percent frustrating,” Jones said.
Here's how the prosecutors' case unraveled:
Omaha police officers pulled over a car March 19 and found Akeem Jones with two loaded guns in his waistband — both with bullets in their chambers. Police ran a check on the guns' serial numbers. One came up as stolen.
Jones was jailed. Prosecutors charged him with possessing a stolen handgun.
Prosecutors then interviewed the Omaha woman who reported the handgun stolen. Turns out, it was her late father's gun. And the daughter had reported the gun stolen after being unable to find it while rummaging through her late father's belongings.
However, the woman could not say for certain that her father had not given away the gun.
Therefore, Nissa Jones said, prosecutors could not establish that the gun had been stolen.
Akeem Jones pleaded no contest to two counts of carrying a concealed weapon, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.
District Judge J Russell Derr sentenced him to one year in jail on each count and ordered him to serve the sentences one after the other. However, because the time served is cut in half under sentencing guidelines, Jones will probably serve only a year in the Douglas County Jail.
Jones' attorney, Matthew Kahler, said Jones was straightforward with authorities. He told a probation officer that he had two loaded guns because his sister's car had been shot up the day before.
Jones told the probation officer he needed both guns because “one might run out” as he defended himself. And he told the probation officer that he wasn't interested in probation.
Kahler said Jones had avoided trouble in the seven months he was out on bail in this case. Jones had been working two jobs and also working with Impact One Community Connection, an Omaha anti-violence group, Kahler said.
“My client was probably too open with (the probation officer),” Kahler said. “He's not trying to sugarcoat anything or hide anything from the court.
“The fact remains, the biggest sentence he's ever gotten (before Tuesday) was 30 days in jail.”
Prosecutors painted a different picture.
Nissa Jones said Akeem Jones told a probation officer he smokes weed on a daily basis, can't stand police officers and will always be a gang member.
And Nissa Jones noted his sordid history.
Jones was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder in the March 2009 shooting at BJ's convenience store, 4122 Ames Ave. In that shooting, Gary W. Holmes was killed, and his cousin, Rodney Smith, was injured.
Prosecutors said Jones, a 37th Street Crips gang member, exchanged looks with Holmes and Smith, who were members of a rival gang. Jones then donned a mask, walked into the store and opened fire, prosecutors said.
Jones was ordered to stand trial, but the charges were dismissed in 2010 after three key prosecution witnesses failed to show up for a hearing. One of the witnesses had reported being threatened in connection with the case and told officials that she feared for her life.
That same year, Jones was shot July 11 and May 26.
Then, on Sept. 10, 2010, he was shot inside a house where he said he went to buy marijuana. One of the men in the home said he spotted Jones crawling on the floor with an assault rifle. Jones opened fire through a bedroom door. Another man returned fire at Jones, hitting him in the back as he fled from the house.
Jones was charged with attempted robbery and assault in that case, but witnesses fell through.
“Obviously, we've charged him,” prosecutor Nissa Jones said. “But our cases are based on witnesses being willing to come forward.”
Jones also was hit in a July 2008 drive-by shooting.
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