A Jacksonville man who was charged with murder in 2018 was sentenced on Friday more than three years after the crime occurred.
In Onslow County Superior Court, Judge Imelda Pate gave Malcolm Lambert, 24, a minimum sentence of 18 years and maximum of 23 in prison for charges of second-degree murder and discharging a weapon into an occupied property.
Prosecutor Kelly Neal, senior assistant district attorney, said the crime stemmed from the defendant giving the victim, 27-year-old Leroy Quinn, $20 worth of marijuana five to seven days prior to the shooting under the assumption the debt would be repaid.
“Twenty dollars – that’s what this whole case came down to,” Neal said after the hearing. “Because of that, the defendant chose to take a firearm and shoot up an apartment complex into the back window of the apartment, and in the process Leroy Quinn lost his life over $20 of marijuana.”
According to Neal’s statements in court, on Nov. 16, 2018, the date of the crime, Lambert visited Quinn’s residence at Liberty Crossing Apartments between 4 and 5 p.m. to request the $20 he was owed be paid. The victim appeared at the door with a BB gun, Neal said, and after a verbal argument, shut the door in the defendant’s face.
Shortly after dark, Lambert, who was living in the neighboring Plaza Manor Apartments at the time, returned to Quinn’s apartment complex located on Carmen Avenue near Gum Branch Road and Henderson Drive and fired four shots with a handgun into the window of the victim’s residence, the prosecutor said. Three bullets pierced the glass and a fourth hit the window casing.
According to Neal, Quinn was struck in the left wrist and the left chest, where a bullet went through his heart and was lodged into his liver. The victim was said to have collapsed in the living room, where he died and was later discovered by his mother.
Jacksonville police responded and found bullet holes on the outside of the home and inside on the walls of the apartment; however, no weapon was ever recovered. Lambert was arrested and charged with murder five days later. An autopsy report found that Quinn died of internal bleeding via gunshot wound, Neal said.
Walter H. Paramore III, Lambert’s attorney, entered an Alford plea of guilty to both charges, meaning the defendant admitted no guilt, but was sentenced as if he had.
“Whatever happened here was absolutely a one time experience,” Paramore said. “I believe these were warning shots that were fired, and I do not believe that there was any premeditation.”
The victim’s mother was not present at Friday’s sentencing, but the prosecution read a statement on her behalf in which she wrote that a life sentence would be appreciated, but that she forgives Lambert and prays that God forgives him.
Following the sentencing, District Attorney Ernie Lee told reporters no one is immune from becoming a victim of a crime.
“If people see something suspicious, they see something that doesn’t seem right, contact law enforcement.” Lee said. “If something does happen, like a case like this where you have this senseless shooting, cooperate with law enforcement and tell them what you know. That is the only way we can prosecute these cases.”
Reporter Calvin Shomaker can be reached at email@example.com.