A 27-year-old Little Rock man has accepted a 45-year prison sentence for killing a man and a woman nine months apart in shootings that also wounded the woman's husband.
Sentencing papers filed Thursday show that Anthony Lanelle Thomas Jr. pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, reduced from first-degree murder, for the July 2019 slaying of Justin Aaron Bell, 19, and to first-degree murder, reduced from capital murder, for fatally shooting 33-year-old Kiero Lasha Turner in April 2020.
In exchange for Thomas' guilty plea, an attempted capital murder charge representing Turner's husband's injuries in the shooting was dropped.
Thomas did not dispute killing Bell about a week after the 2019 Independence Day holiday, and told police the shooting was self-defense. Thomas was arrested the day after Bell, a father of one, was found fatally wounded in the 1100 block of Lewis Street by police investigating reports of gunfire and a ShotSpotter activation.
Police said Bell was shot after coming to the defense of a 13-year-old boy -- Thomas' cousin -- whom Thomas and another older man had accused of stealing a moped that the boy had been riding that night.
The boy told investigators Bell had stood up for him after Thomas accused him of stealing his moped and threatened to beat him up. The boy said he did not see the shooting.
Questioned after his arrest, Thomas said he and Bell had been arguing via text messages that night, and he was carrying a gun because he knew the people the boy was hanging out with to shoot at people.
Thomas told detectives that when he encountered Bell, the younger man started to pull a pistol so he shot Bell, then took his gun, according to police reports. Thomas spent about six months in jail until his $750,000 bail was reduced to $100,000 and he was able to post bond in October 2019.
In April 2020, about five months after Thomas got out of jail, Turner, a mother of one, was found dead in her white 2005 Chevrolet Equinox in the 2900 block of South Monroe Street by police investigating a ShotSpotter activation. She had been shot five times.
Her husband of almost seven years, Ricky Lamar Turner, wounded in the neck and jaw, was lying in the street nearby and he named Thomas, an acquaintance, as the shooter, according to police.
Turner, 37, told investigators he and his wife had been driving Thomas to the grocery store when the younger man shot them. Thomas denied any involvement in the attack on the couple when he was arrested three days later.
Thomas said he had met with Rickey Turner and bought marijuana from the older man the day of the shootings but denied getting into the sport utility vehicle, according to police.
Thomas has been jailed since his arrest.