A Tulsa 19-year-old received a life sentence Monday after jurors found him guilty in April of first-degree murder for the shooting of his 15-year-old friend inside a north Tulsa apartment last year.
Marques Herron was 17 when he was arrested in Oklahoma City on suspicion of killing 15-year-old Tommy Leigh Thompson on March 8, 2018, at Apache Manor, 2402 N. Marion Ave. Jurors on April 25 took about two hours to find Herron guilty, rejecting Herron’s testimony about the shooting occurring in self-defense and also a lesser-included offense of first-degree manslaughter in the heat of passion.
District Judge Kelly Greenough upheld the jury’s sentencing recommendation during a sentencing hearing Monday afternoon. The Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office did not seek consideration of life without parole, which meant — due to Herron being a minor upon his arrest — life with the possibility of parole was the only punishment option.
“I’m glad justice was served, but I’m still hurting because I don’t get to see my son anymore,” Thompson’s mother, Shonika Thompson, said after the proceedings. “And I just want my son. He was killed for no reason.”
Herron did not address the court during his sentencing, nor did he provide an account of Thompson’s death during the Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ pre-sentence investigation. However, Herron testified at his trial and said he shot Thompson because, among other theories, he thought Thompson was reaching for a gun in his back pocket.
At that time, he told his attorney, Brian Martin, that he regretted the incident and would not do it again if the same circumstances occurred. Martin on Monday asked for Greenough to suspend part of Herron’s sentence, which would give him a chance to remain out of prison for some of his life, because of Herron’s young age and his lack of significant criminal history.
But Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray said “this was not a situation where he immediately took accountability” for his actions. Gray said evidence showed Herron ran from the scene of the shooting to Oklahoma City, where he was picked up by the marshals, and said the jury chose to return a guilty verdict for murder rather than manslaughter.
Tulsa Police Detectives John Brown and Max Ryden said during their interview with Herron that it appeared Herron was upset with Tommy Thompson for “talking s---” in the apartment. They told Herron they thought he already decided to use deadly force before Thompson ever touched him during the altercation, saying they did not find a gun on or near Thompson’s body.
Herron, in his testimony, claimed he overheard Thompson talking on the phone about possibly taking money from him.
“He messed up his life and my son’s life,” Shonika Thompson said. When asked what she would say to Herron, she said she would have told him she forgave him but asked, “Why did he have to kill him? He could have done anything but killed him.”
In court, Gray told Greenough that Herron’s behavior since the trial — as shown by the pre-sentence investigation report — indicates Herron hasn’t demonstrated sincere remorse or responsibility for killing Tommy Thompson. He said there is a “strong possibility” that Herron, despite having parole eligibility once he reaches his mid-50s, will die in prison because of the nature of the crime.
“Here, these two kids were friends. They had been friends for a number of years, and I think it’s telling that he didn’t so much as look at (Shonika Thompson) and say, ‘I’m sorry,’ ” Gray said after the hearing.
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