Pair pleads guilty to 2012 murder of Gregory Gardner - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Pair pleads guilty to 2012 murder of Gregory Gardner

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Through tears and hugs of comfort, the family of a slain Columbus man addressed two men accused of his murder.

Luther Thomas and Michael Frazier pleaded guilty Monday afternoon to reduced charges in connection with the September 2012 murder of 22-year-old Gregory Gardner.

Assistant District Attorney William Hocutt testified the pair went to a home located at 1908 A Lenox Drive pretending to purchase marijuana from the victim; instead Hocutt said they attempted to rob Gardner.

Gardner reportedly fought back, tussling with Thomas when he was shot in the neck.

Hocutt testified the victim's lifeless body was found inside the kitchen.

A witness at the home told police he was there when the shooting occurred. According to Hocutt the witness said both Thomas and Frazier had guns. After shooting the Gardner, they fled through a door in the kitchen, Hocutt said.

The witness reportedly told police he grabbed the marijuana left behind and fled into the woods to discard it. However, Thomas' defense attorney Tim Flournoy said that was not the case. Flournoy testified upon further investigation authorities learned the witness was attempting to sell the blood stained baggies of marijuana on the street.

Hocutt explained The State reduced the charges due to incredible witnesses.

Thomas' charges of murder, criminal attempted armed robbery and possession of a firearm during a crime plead guilty to reduced charges of manslaughter and criminal attempted robbery.

Frazier, who Thomas reportedly told police was not involved in the crime, was facing charges ofmurder, criminal attempted armed robbery, possession of a firearm during acrime and possession of a firearm by a felon plead guilty to a single reduced charge of criminal attempted robbery.

The victim's family proclaimed they would lean on their faith as they came to terms with his death.

"I don't even want you to sit in jail for the rest of your life. I just want you to see that the value of life is more than a dollar," the victim's sister sobbed.

The victim's mother spoke candidly about her son's involvement.

"They all were wrong, including my baby. But it wasn't right for them to take his life like that. I'll never see him again."

The victim's brother also spoke; he said he and Frazier practically grew up together. He demanded to know why Frazierof all people would harm his brother.

Neither Thomas nor Frazier spoke during the hearing.  Thomas' mother wept as she apologized to the victim's family.

"My heart goes out to the family. I know they lost their son but I didn't raise a murderer," she said. "He didn't run around in the street. He wasn't a gang member. He wasn't that kind of child."

Judge Allen called the murder senseless and stupid before sentencing Thomas to serve 24 in prison and 16 on probation on both charges; Frazier was sentenced to five years in prison with five years on probation.

The state told News Leader 9's Brittany Dionne they thought the recommended time of 30 years for Thomas and 10 years for Frazier was a fairer sentence.

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