Jurors convict three inmates, acquit one in Okla. inmate's death

After more than three hours of deliberating, jurors found the three inmates guilty of second-degree murder

By Kyle Schwab
The Oklahoman

OKLAHOMA CITY — Jurors on Thursday night convicted three inmates and acquitted one in the death of a fellow inmate.

All four had been accused of beating and stomping Maurice “Little Smoke” Pendleton on July 18, 2017, inside the Oklahoma County jail. Prosecutors alleged the attack was gang-related.

After more than three hours of deliberating, jurors found the three inmates guilty of second-degree murder. Jurors will deliberate punishment Friday.

Convicted were Todd Alan Miller, 32; Antonio Dewayne Ligons, 36; and Martaveous Dwayne Gillioms, 21.

Acquitted was Hareth Hameed, 19.

All four denied involvement in the death and disputed gang affiliation.

The assault took place just before noon on the jail's eighth-floor basketball court, according to investigators.

Pendleton had just been arraigned by video on an assault charge. The four inmates had been awaiting disciplinary hearings for getting into trouble while at the jail.

A key witness, Raymundo Rubio, another inmate, also was in the basketball court for a disciplinary hearing. Rubio, 22, testified that Ligons threw the first punch after faking a handshake with Pendleton, and then the others jumped him.

Rubio said Miller, Ligons and Gillioms struck Pendleton "a lot of times." Pendleton then ran around the court, attempting to escape the attack, Rubio testified.

The three inmates also tried to strip Pendleton, he said. Rubio testified Hameed just stood there during the attack, which lasted about 90 seconds.

“What happened on the ball court killed Maurice Pendleton,” Assistant District Attorney Jessica Foster said during closing arguments. “He was killed for no reason.”

A maintenance man intervened after hearing Pendleton bang on the door to the court and observed the altercation inside, according to prosecutors.

Pendleton died that evening at a hospital.

Miller, Ligons and Gillioms also were convicted of a felony gang association offense. Prosecutors allege those three are associated with the Rollin 20s and Rollin 90s Crips.

Pendleton, 36, of Midwest City, was a member of a rival gang, the 107 Hoover Crips, according to prosecutors. Before the attack, though, the victim said he didn't "gang bang" like that, according to investigators.

The assault was not recorded by jail surveillance cameras. After the altercation, the sheriff said changes were made at the jail to prevent future incidents.

Two of the inmates already were facing murder charges at the time of jail death. Gillioms is awaiting trial. Hameed was sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty.

During closing arguments, defense attorney Michael Johnson said the medical evidence doesn't support the “blow after blow” beating alleged by prosecutors.

Instead, Johnson, who represents Ligons, contended Pendleton's death was caused by his sickle cell disease.

The state medical examiner determined Pendleton's cause of death was “traumatic head injury sequela.” Other significant conditions contributing to death were small vessel disease of the heart, emphysema and sickle cell trait with sickling. The manner of death was homicide.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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