CRIME REWIND: Tahlequah man still behind bars for 2010 slaying

  • In US
  • 2023-02-24 04:59:00Z
  • By Tahlequah Daily Press, Okla.

Feb. 23-A Tahlequah man convicted of killing another man in 2010 remains behind bars for his 30-year sentence.

On Aug.16, 2010, an argument about narcotics turned deadly when Kent Allen Johnson shot Jonathan Hall. Johnson and Randelle Jay Sanders were arrested and booked in connection with the shooting.

Authorities said the men were at Johnson's home on Jones Road north of Tahlequah when the argument started. Witnesses told investigators Johnson and Hall were arguing about narcotics, and Johnson has told law enforcement he accidentally shot Hall.

Investigators said Johnson said he drove Hall to Tahlequah City Hospital, now known as Northeastern Health System, where he died, according to reports.

Hall was shot once in the chest with a .22-caliber revolver.

Johnson was booked on a first-degree manslaughter charge, and Sanders was booked for obstructing an officer.

Johnson consented to a search of his trailer for the .22-caliber gun, which he said he had dropped on the floor.

Investigators went to the trailer and searched, but failed to find the gun. However, they found a filled syringe and five spoons containing what appeared to be methamphetamine residue. Johnson told authorities the syringe contained steroids.

Johnson also is charged with two counts of unlawful possession of controlled substance, a felony involving methamphetamine, and a misdemeanor involving testosterone.

Sanders had a Cherokee County conviction for accessory to murder in the second degree for the December 2001 shooting death of Jackie Balthrop. He was on probation on that conviction until March 2019.

Kenneth Gulley was tried and acquitted for shooting Balthrop. Sanders was originally charged with first-degree murder in that case, but entered his plea to a reduced count of accessory to second-degree murder.

Prosecutors sought to revoke Sanders' 14-year suspended sentence.

During Johnson's jury trial, investigators said he tole them Hall called him and said someone was coming over to his home to kill him and he wanted Johnson's help. Johnson said he and Sanders went to Hall's residence and found him wounded and unconscious.

Johnson changed his story and said he and Hall were talking at his trailer. He said he was wearing his "quick-draw rig" and was playing with his pistol. Johnson said the gun went off accidentally while he was twirling it.

Witnesses testified that Johnson, Hall, and Sanders had spent much of the day at Johnson's place, working on a motorcycle.

Johnson's wife came back from work late that evening, and the men went to Hall's home to get her a breathing machine. Johnson and Sanders returned, while Hall remained at his home.

According to witnesses Crystal Caviness and Sanders, Hall received a call from Johnson after that. Johnson was irate and demanded his money or his drugs from Hall. Hall set out on foot to Johnson's trailer.

On Nov. 1, 2011, jurors found Johnson guilty of second-degree manslaughter after more than two hours of deliberations. Jurors found him innocent of the methamphetamine charge, but guilty of possessing testosterone. They recommended six months in the county jail and a $500 fine on that count.

Days before the sentencing hearing, Johnson's attorney filed a motion asking the court for a new trial or for his client to be acquitted on all charges. According to Jack Tracy, two jurors were caught sleeping during the trial, and Johnson's stepfather alleged that one juror was seen reading the "Tahlequah Daily News" before deliberations.

The request for a new trial was tossed and Johnson was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He began his sentence at the Joseph Harp Correctional Center on May. 24, 2012.

Sanders' charge of accessory after the fact was reduced to a misdemeanor and he was given a one-year suspended sentence.


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