Third man sentenced in murder

Published 10:20 pm Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A 36-year-old Suffolk man was sentenced Monday to 59 years in prison for the 2014 murder of a downtown businessman.

Leon Jerome Hayes is the last of three defendants to be sentenced for the shooting of 82-year-old Donald Carter Sr., which happened Sept. 22, 2014. Hayes was found guilty after a jury trial in August.

During Monday’s hearing, prosecutor Thomas Shaia said, Hayes took the stand and claimed he didn’t kill Carter. Two motions to set aside the verdicts for lack of evidence were denied by Circuit Court Judge Carl Eason.

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Carter was gunned down outside his furniture store early in the morning of Sept. 22, 2014. Prosecutors said Hayes and another man, Katron Shawndell Walker, attempted to rob Carter in an altercation set up by a woman, Naomi Nichelle Lambert, who had been with Carter and others that night. Carter took the group to Taco Bell for food and then back to his furniture store on East Washington Street, where they talked and drank.

Walker and Hayes hid outside in the shrubs and ambushed Carter when the group emerged from the store just after 1 a.m.

Walker confessed to the crime during his interview with police and said he shot Carter when the businessman resisted the attack. But Walker also said Hayes was the one who got him involved in the scheme, and Hayes was the one who hid the gun under an abandoned house on St. James Avenue after the shooting.

Hayes also was sentenced Monday to six years and nine months in revocation proceedings from two charges dating from 2005.

He is set for a bench trial on a final charge, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, on Jan. 5.

Walker is serving 62 years for the crime, and Lambert is serving 22 years.