After years of abuse, an Oklahoma man was kicked out of his girlfriend’s home. Days later, he returned and killed her.
Now, he will remain behind bars for decades.
Last week, a Tulsa judge sentenced Alonzo John Kelly III, 32, to life in prison with the possibility of parole for the shooting death of Charletta Thomas, 45. Kelly was found guilty and convicted by a jury of first-degree murder.
On March 19, 2016, Tulsa Police responded to the 3700 Block of West 57th Street after receiving a 911 call with nobody on the receiving end. When officers arrived, they found Thomas unconscious with a gunshot wound.
According to prosecutors, three minutes before Kelly called 911; he made another call to a witness who testified hearing the couple fight in the background. Then the defendant told the witness he could come over to the house if he was wanted to save her.
Next, Kelly shot the victim and called 911, leaving the phone next to an unconscious Thomas. The defendant walked away from the scene. His whereabouts were unknown to authorities for almost two years, until his arrest in Portland, Oregon, during a prostitution sting in 2018.
Investigators discovered a long history of abuse during the couple’s relationship. As a result, Thomas had had enough of the abuse and kicked Kelly out of her home. Investigators believe the defendant wanted to get back with the victim, but she rebuffed his attempts, leading to the altercation and her murder.
At trial, Kelly’s defense lawyer argued his client had made the 911 call to provide help for Thomas.However, prosecutors submitted surveillance footage evidence of Kelly retrieving funds from Thomas’bank accounts after her death.
In addition, to the witness testimonies, prosecutors also played the 911 tape for jurors to listen. They described to the jury the defendant’s intentional act to make sure Thomas had bled to death from the gunshot wound before making the 911 call.
"In domestic violence cases it's not always just that physical abuse that others might see, it's the controlling, the jealousy, the always trying to be involved in someone's life, because they are scared that they are going to leave them. The most violent and dangerous time for anyone in a domestic violence incident, even if there hasn't been prior physical abuse, is that time when the abuser thinks they are leaving,” said Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Elmore, according to News On 6.
Though the trial had suffered many delays and setbacks due to Kelly’s change of attorneys and the COVID-19 epidermic, family members were grateful for the outcome.
“You expect it to be like this relief, like everything after the fact is just right in the world. But in reality — yes, we got justice, he’s behind bars — but nothing’s all right again, because that person’s still gone. You still got that hole in your chest. I try to continue to do what she usually does. She stayed working; stayed helping people. She was a very caring woman. I try to mimic her. I try to do anything that I know she would want me to do and be, basically just to continue to make her proud,” said the victim’s daughter Shamia Thomas, according to Tulsa World.
Under Oklahoma law, a life sentence is capped at 45 years, and with parole after 80 percent. Kelly will serve 38 years and four months.