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Archive for Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lawrence man, 32, ordered to about 10 more years in prison for role in murder

Major C. Edwards Jr., left,  was sentenced Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011, to 10 more years in prison for his role in the 2006 shooting death of Lawrence hip-hop artist Anthony Vital.

Major C. Edwards Jr., left, was sentenced Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011, to 10 more years in prison for his role in the 2006 shooting death of Lawrence hip-hop artist Anthony Vital.

December 27, 2011, 3:26 p.m. Updated December 27, 2011, 4:57 p.m.

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A Douglas County judge Tuesday sentenced Major C. Edwards Jr. to spend about 10 more years in prison for his role in the 2006 shooting death of Lawrence hip-hop artist Anthony “Clacc” Vital.

“I will be sentenced to prison,” Edwards, 32, of Lawrence, said in a short written statement he read aloud. “I hope and pray that Clacc’s family will be able to have peace.”

Anthony “Clacc” Vital

Anthony “Clacc” Vital

Chief District Judge Robert Fairchild followed the 2010 plea agreement in the case that called for Edwards to serve 14 years total in exchange for a guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter. But he has already spent more than three years and six months in jail awaiting resolution of the case. Chief assistant district attorney David Melton said Edwards either shot Vital or led co-defendant Durrell Jones to his friend Vital that night.

“Anthony Vital found out what it is to be Major Edwards’ friend, and he is now dead,” Melton said. “He is dead directly due to the actions of the defendant in this case.”

A jury in March was not able to reach a verdict in Jones’ first-degree murder trial, and he is now free after prosecutors dropped charges against him because they said Edwards was not a credible witness.

Defense attorney Branden Bell on Tuesday had asked for an even lesser sentence saying it was unfair to consider Edwards’ two felony convictions as a juvenile as part of his criminal history. But Fairchild ruled to enforce the sentence under the plea agreement that would have Edwards serve a 14-year sentence instead of 18. Bell said after the hearing Edwards was grateful for that.

“Major wasn’t guilty of everything the state accused him of, and he was happy to receive a sentence that reflected that he isn’t a murderer,” Bell said.

The sentence likely brings an end to a legal saga that’s stretched over more than five years.

A rural landowner found the body of Vital, 28, on Oct. 15, 2006, in a driveway west of Lawrence, starting a lengthy investigation by Douglas County Sheriff’s investigators.

Edwards testified in the March jury trial that Jones shot and killed Vital to collect on a drug debt for PCP, and Edwards expressed remorse for leading Jones to Vital that night.

Officers had arrested Edwards in Mississippi days after Vital was shot, but Jones did not publicly come into the picture until prosecutors filed charges against both men in 2008.

Jurors were not able to reach a unanimous verdict against Jones, and Douglas County prosecutors in August dropped their case against him. After the mistrial, Edwards unsuccessfully attempted to withdraw his guilty plea. Jones’ defense attorney, John Kerns, had also criticized Edwards’ credibility at the trial.

Prosecutors then formally sought to nullify the plea agreement because they alleged Edwards was not completely truthful in his testimony against Jones. In an October hearing they even put a jail mate, Joe Hunter, on the stand because they said Hunter had alleged Edwards told him he actually shot Vital.

However, Hunter refused to testify at the hearing, and Fairchild held up the plea agreement.

Melton said Vital’s family did not attend the hearing but Fairchild read letters they wrote to him.

After the hearing, Edwards’ mother, Fannie Vineyard of Lawrence, said she had urged Edwards to take the plea in 2010 because she told her son that Vital’s family deserved to know what happened to him. She said she believed Edwards was telling the truth when he testified at the trial.

Jones was released from federal prison Nov. 1 after serving time on federal drug charges, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

“It’s just like rubbing dirt in your face,” Vineyard said. “He got away with it. That’s how I feel. I just feel like the state didn’t prove their case, and Major was the fall guy.”

Edwards could be eligible to receive another 15 percent off his sentence for good behavior in prison. After he gets out of prison, Edwards must register as a violent offender.

“He either pulled the trigger or helped get Anthony Vital into a position where that trigger could be pulled by Durrell Jones,” Melton said. “But for Mr. Edwards’ action, Mr. Vital would be alive today.”

Comments

Keith 2 years, 8 months ago

"Defense attorney Branden Bell argued the 14-year sentence was proper because he said Edwards didn’t shoot Vital."

Shouldn't that be IMproper?

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George Diepenbrock 2 years, 8 months ago

It's proper. I am explaining more in the detailed version that should be posted soon, but the defense told me they are basically happy the judge enforced the plea agreement.

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Keith 2 years, 8 months ago

Thanks for the clarification, I thought the defense attorney was asking for a lesser sentence.

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grammaddy 2 years, 8 months ago

At least it's finally over. RIP Anthony.

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Paula Kissinger 2 years, 8 months ago

Grammatically, yes...realistically, no. This is something you don't see enough of anymore in the judicial system...justice. WTG Judge Fairchild !

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Steve Jacob 2 years, 8 months ago

Did the assistant DA's actually say "either shot Vital or led co-defendant Durrell Jones to his friend Vital that night."? If so, those exact words will come up if Jones ever pops up for trial on this murder charge.

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Ken Lewis 2 years, 8 months ago

That is a pretty light sentence for murder. You can get more time in federal courts for operating a prostitution ring using only consenting adult women. Ask the JOCO massage parlor operators about that. Oh, I guess you cant. They have been in federal prison since May 2007.

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps they'll also reduce him in rank to Private.

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bearded_gnome 2 years, 8 months ago

“I will be sentenced to prison,” Edwards, 32, of Lawrence, said in a short written statement he read aloud. “I hope and pray that Clacc’s family will be able to have peace.”

---saw the video of Edwards giving this speech.

he sounded about as sincere as a chastity speech would be from Bill Clinton.

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bearded_gnome 2 years, 8 months ago

just hoping the DA's office can dig up other charges: keep this guy off the streets!

good on Edwards' mom though. she was right to encourage her demon spawn to take the plea agreement and get this settled.

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Neomarxist123 2 years, 8 months ago

I'm sure this is the only time he's ever committed a crime. Don't expect more charges.

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bearded_gnome 2 years, 8 months ago

I hope you're being sarcastic, ... right?

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somebodynew 2 years, 8 months ago

Lawrence can be happy that Major won't be around for awhile. This sentence is actually "community service". Thank you, Judge Fairchild.

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Fossick 2 years, 8 months ago

Guy should be stripped of his rank, too.

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Fossick 2 years, 8 months ago

Dang, Snap beat already said that. slinks away

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bearded_gnome 2 years, 8 months ago

it's okay Fossick, happens to the best of us.


Major Edwards=major crime spree edwards.

please find more charges and keep him locked up longer. you just talk to his old girlfriends DA!

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tongiegirl1973 2 years, 8 months ago

He should have been put away for a very very long time when he completely changed the life of a young man back in 1994. If I recall he and a few others beat some young men with baseball bats at the park and one of the young men spent 6 to 7 months at KU med trying to re-learn everything from breathing on his own to writing his name just for starters. Sad. RIP to the young man that was shot in this incident.

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IndusRiver 2 years, 8 months ago

Nobody cares about this mental defect of a boy. What's one more off the streets? Not a thing.

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tongiegirl1973 2 years, 8 months ago

Indus: I hope you misread my comment. The mental defect was CAUSED by Major Edwards! He and two others showed up with bats and started hitting people who were standing there. What I was trying to say is that he should have been off the streets long ago. I am giving you the benefit of the doubt but the person that had mental defects was an innocent bystander. The act was supposedly done because Edwards and his little group were bored! So, please read before you comment and if my comment was misleading, I apologize. Consider this the correction. Honestly I could not give a rodents butt about any mental problem that Major has or could have or whatever. I was merely stating that he did damage to some people in the past and justice was not served.

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IndusRiver 2 years, 7 months ago

1973 -

Just an aside; my personal point of view; nothing to get hung about. Lawrence is full of both criminal and inmate and condemns itself to be known only for the worst of the two.

Not really my problem notwithstanding my post(s).

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