A Miller County jury sentenced a Texarkana, Ark., man to life in prison plus 15 years for killing a 22-year-old man over a parking slot last year.
Marvin Arrell Stanton, 49, screamed and yelled in the courtroom Wednesday morning under cross examination by Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Black.
“I guess we’re seeing a little of what Jesse Hamilton saw in that parking lot that night,” Black said in response to Stanton’s raised voice and aggressive testimony.
Stanton and three other motorcyclists pulled into the RaceWay on State Line Avenue Sept. 25 in Texarkana, Ark. Stanton’s friends parked near the front of the store but Stanton went to an area by the gas pumps where the riders often liked to park.
Jesse James Hamilton had started his truck and was preparing to leave when Stanton pulled up and shouted, “Move your f—ing truck,” witnesses testified. Hamilton and his friends, Lavon Strong and Sanmarcos Jacobs, got out of the truck. Stanton told the men he was a former Marine and showed them the gun he had holstered to his hip.
Strong testified Tuesday that Hamilton was trying to talk to Stanton when the much larger man shoved him into the side of the truck. Stanton was obviously surprised when Hamilton, who weighed nearly 200 pounds less and stood far shorter, came up swinging. Hamilton was able to deliver a few punches to Stanton’s face before a girlfriend of Stanton’s intervened.
Emily Robinson managed to pull Hamilton away from Stanton. Witnesses testified during the three-day trial that it appeared the brief fist fight was over when Stanton pulled his .45 and shot Hamilton once in the gut.
“I want to remind you that Marvin Stanton didn’t come here today and say it was a horrible mistake or that I didn’t mean to kill him,” Black argued. “And he told you that if I had it to do all over again, I’d do the same thing. But he wants to come here today and ask you for mercy.”
During his rambling, loud and incredible testimony, Stanton told the jury he was afraid of suffering brain damage, such as is seen in shaken baby syndrome, if Hamilton continued to punch his head. Stanton became increasingly frustrated as Black turned his own words against him.
“I was shocked really because I am a guy my size and I have a gun and they’re still challenging me,” Stanton said.
Black asked Stanton if he is accustomed to smaller, unarmed people backing down when he intimidates with his size and his fire power, describing him as a bully who committed a “senseless murder over a parking space.”
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Cotten told the jury Stanton’s violence has been escalating, referring to testimony from two witnesses during the punishment phase of the trial. One witness described being threatened by Stanton with a gun and another, a woman, said Stanton caught her by surprise when he slapped her in the face.
“Mr. Stanton started this fight with his words, he started this fight with a shove, and he ended the fight with a bullet,” Cotten argued. “He didn’t try to fight back. He was mad that Jesse was embarrassing him and he shot him.”
The jury sentenced Stanton to life in prison for murder and 15 years for using a firearm in the commission of a felony. The firearms enhancement sentence must be served consecutively to the life term and there is no parole from a life sentence in Arkansas.
Hamilton’s mother wept as she told the jury about the night police officers came to her home and informed her of her son’s demise.
“It wasn’t a movie, and it wasn’t a dream and it wasn’t a nightmare,” the mother cried. “The last time I saw him he was lifeless on an operating table.”
Hamilton’s widow and childhood sweetheart said she grieves for their daughter.
“He won’t be there when she potty trains, or starts kindergarten. He won’t be there to walk her down the aisle,” Hamilton’s wife said. “Our innocent, sweet baby girl. She deserved better. And someday I’m going to have to tell her, “Daddy lost his lost life over a place to park. Over something trivial. Something stupid.”