Appeals court upholds Deondra Thomas murder conviction

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Deondra Thomas

The Iowa Court of Appeals has affirmed a Scott County conviction for Deondra Thomas, of Davenport, who was charged with first-degree murder and felon in possession of a firearm.

The appeal was affirmed Wednesday.

In the State v. Deondra Thomas case, Thomas was charged with murder in the first degree for shooting and killing Jason Roberts on June 9, 2018.

According to a news release from Amy DeVine, first assistant county attorney, Scott County: Roberts, of Davenport, “was an outstanding member of the community who lost his life, merely because he was trying to be the peacekeeper during a disturbance at a social club.”

In many cases, people choose to not get involved or cooperate with law enforcement because of social pressures or the stigma of being labeled a “snitch,” the release says.

“That very well could have happened in this case, but people chose to cooperate and provide information because they knew Jason and knew the kind of man he was,” the release continues. “They knew that Jason would do the right thing for them, and it drove them to do the right thing for Jason.”

Roberts, 46, was shot outside of a bar in downtown Davenport. His body was found on West 4th Street.

The jury trial was in January 2019. The jury took about 45 minutes of deliberation to reach the verdict after several days of testimony.

Thomas was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on March 1, 2019.
In the appeal, Thomas challenged “the sufficiency of the evidence establishing his identity as the shooter, malice aforethought, and premeditation.”

Thomas claimed the district court abused its discretion when it admitted certain evidence and asked his case be remanded “so that he may establish the jury was not drawn from a fair cross-section of the community.”

The decision summarizes: “Thomas’s conviction for first-degree murder is supported by sufficient evidence.The district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting evidence. And on this record, we decline to remand to provide Thomas another chance at a fair cross-section claim.”

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