YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — At just 16, newspaper accounts said Derrick Jones was told guns are for cowards by the grandmother of a man he confessed to killing during a fight.
Next week, the now 36-year-old Jones will be before a federal judge to be sentenced for having a gun, despite the fact that conviction kept him from owning one.
Jones will be sentenced Thursday by U.S. Judge Benita Y. Pearson on a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm after he pleaded guilty Jan. 11 to the charge in the U.S. Northern District Court of Ohio.
Jones was indicted by a federal grand jury based on a April 18, 2021, arrest by city police during a traffic stop when officers found marijuana and a handgun.
Jones is prohibited from having a gun because of a 2002 conviction for the June 6, 2001, shooting of a 19-year-old man in the 200 block of Benita Avenue.
Police reports from the time said the man was killed after a fistfight escalated into gunfire. Jones was charged as a 16-year-old with murder and pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter with a firearm specification. Mahoning County Common Pleas Court R. Scott Krichbaum upheld a sentencing recommendation by the parties and sentenced Jones to seven years in prison.
Jones’ attorney, Khalida Sims Jackson, wrote in a sentencing memorandum to Judge Pearson this week that Jones admits he had a gun when he was stopped but he only had it for protection and never used it or threatened to use it.
Jackson wrote that her client was shot when he was 13 and later arrested for the first time at 14. Jones drinks, does cocaine and ecstasy, and his longest period of sobriety has been a year and a half.
She said her client has never undergone substance abuse counseling and hopes to receive some sort of vocational training when he is in prison. Jackson suggested a sentence of 37 months in prison would be appropriate.
When Jones was sentenced in February 2002, The Vindicator reported that a statement from the grandmother of the victim was read into the record and in the statement, the grandmother told Jones that “only cowards carry guns.”
Jones told the court at the time that he carried a gun because of the bullet wound he received in the leg when he was 13 and used it then because he feared for his life because of his previous wound.