A Pine Bluff man who pleaded guilty last August to federal gun charges was sentenced to five years and one month in prison in a plea deal worked out with the government that his attorney and the prosecutor said would give him a chance to break a yearslong cycle of violence.
Jalyn McKinley Scott, 23, was arrested Oct. 5, 2020, in Pine Bluff as police scoured the area following a shootout at a Pine Bluff motel in which Pine Bluff police officer Kevin Collins was shot and killed by an acquaintance of Scott's. Collins and other officers were at the Econo Lodge Hotel attempting to arrest Ke'Shone Smith, 22, on a murder charge out of Georgia. Police said Smith fired on the officers, striking Collins and another officer. Collins later died at a local hospital. The other officer recovered.
Scott, who was cleared of any connection with Collins' shooting, was arrested later that day after state police spotted him driving a gold Chevrolet Tahoe and gave chase, cornering him a short distance later. While searching his vehicle, police discovered a Glock 9mm pistol fitted with a "Glock switch," a mechanism that converts Glock semi-automatic pistols to function as a fully automatic firearm.
According to court records and police reports, Scott and Smith, both reported to be members of the Pine Bluff-based street gang EBK -- EveryBody Killas -- were staying together in a room at the Econo Lodge Hotel at the time of the shooting.
Three days later, Scott was indicted on one count of possession of an unregistered firearm by a federal grand jury in Little Rock. The following December, a superseding indictment charged him with one count each of possession of a machine gun, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, and two counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
The new charges stemmed from an incident on Sept. 30, 2018, in which Scott was arrested at a Pine Bluff nightclub after police working security at the club discovered Xanax and ecstasy pills, a Kahr .45 caliber pistol and a Century Arms Micro Draco 7.62mm pistol inside a car Scott had ridden in to the nightclub.
Last August, Scott pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kristine G. Baker to one count each of possession of a machine gun and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. He faced maximum penalties of 10 years in prison on the first count and five years to life -- to be served consecutively to any sentence received on the first count -- on the second count.
At the sentencing hearing, both Scott's attorney, John Williams with the Federal Public Defenders Office in Little Rock, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Walker told Baker that an agreement had been reached for Scott to serve five years in prison to satisfy the legal requirement of a mandatory minimum five-year sentence on the second count and to then go live with his father in Atlanta, away from the gang violence in Pine Bluff and where his father could provide a more structured environment.
In a sentencing memorandum filed by Williams in February, he pointed out that Scott had earned his GED at the age of 16 with a 3.63 grade point average while in the Arkansas Department of Youth Services and that he had thrived during a three-year period from the age of 11 to 14 when he lived with his father, who provided a very structured environment. But, the memorandum said, when Scott returned to Pine Bluff at the age of 14 to help his mother out, he soon fell in with older teens and found himself in trouble.
Williams told Baker that much of Scott's difficulties stemmed from a lack of guidance.
"His mother tried but lives in very difficult circumstances," Williams said. "He did fine in Atlanta when he went to live with his father and I think it's notable that his release plan is to go back to his father to get out of Pine Bluff ... to get back to a more structured place where he can succeed."
Williams said a five-year sentence coupled with a sufficient period of supervised release would get Scott to his 30s, "to a point where he's an adult and he's out of Pine Bluff and able to resume his life without all of this violence and temptation."
Scott apologized to Baker for his actions, saying he took "full responsibility" for his actions, then went on to say that getting arrested when he did had saved his life and that the more than two years he has been jailed since then had opened his eyes.
"I can count on two hands how many people I've lost since I've been here," Scott said. "Any one of those could have been me. That's why I chose to go back to Atlanta with my dad. If I stay in the same environment I know, I expect I'll either come back or be dead, so thank you."
Walker agreed to the terms of the plea agreement, saying that Scott had taken full responsibility for his actions, adding that he "seemed almost relieved" when he was arrested.
"The spirit of this agreement was to reach a five-year sentence," Walker said. "I appreciate that these counts have to run consecutively so my questions is, how do we get there?"
After considering the matter, Baker sentenced Scott to one month on the machine-gun possession count to be followed by the five-year statutory minimum sentence on the second count, with both to run consecutively for a total of 61 months. She also ordered him to serve three years on supervised release after he leaves prison.
"Your choice now," Baker said, "is going to be pretty clear and you know it, you articulated it to me. You keep going down the path you're on you're going to end up dead or end up right back here, neither one of which is a good place for you to be."