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California man receives life sentence for 2017 triple homicide

A 34-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday for a 2017 triple homicide.

In May, a jury convicted Delon Holston of three counts of first degree murder with a deadly weapon and robbery with a deadly weapon. Holston was a passenger in a rental car on the 4100 block of Silver Dollar Avenue on June 13, 2017, when he shot the three other occupants — 31-year-old Tory Barnett, 36-year-old Jason Harvey and 26-year-old Justin Brooks.

All three victims were shot in the head, prosecutors said. Harvey was shot four times in the back of the head and died at the scene. Barnett also died at the scene, and was shot nine times, four to the head, as she tried to escape the car, leaving a trail of blood and hair behind her, Chief Deputy District Attorney John Giordani said during the trial’s closing arguments, according to court transcripts.

Brooks died months later at University Medical Center, the Clark County coroner’s office has said.

“The state is correct, these people were executed in the back of this car,” District Judge Tierra Jones said during Holston’s sentencing hearing on Thursday.

Holston was facing the death penalty for the killings, but after the jury found him guilty, he negotiated with prosecutors to receive a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Jones sentenced Holston to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 48 years.

During the trial, defense attorneys argued that the shooting was in self defense after Harvey had threatened Holston’s children, according to court transcripts. Holston, who lived in California and was arrested in Inglewood following the killing, also claimed he had been selling drugs for Harvey, and that the three victims attacked him hours before the shooting.

Holston’s defense attorneys argued that while they were in the car, Brooks pointed a gun at Holston, who disarmed him and then began firing. But prosecutors said there was no evidence of a fight over a gun.

“There was one gun in that car and Mr. Holston brought it with him,” Giordani said during closing arguments, according to court transcripts.

Following the shooting, Holston used Brooks’ Facebook account to send a message to Brooks’ ex-girlfriend, telling her that Brooks had been shot, according to Holston’s arrest report. The message read “I got killed. He dead babe.”

During the sentencing hearing, defense attorneys Karen Connolly and Ivette Maningo argued that Holston was acting out of character because his children had been threatened. They said he is a normally a kind, soft-spoken man with no violent criminal history.

Holston apologized for the shooting on Thursday.

“All I can do is just ask for forgiveness and ask for mercy from the court, and thank the court and thank the state of Nevada for giving me a fair trial,” he said.

The judge said she struggled to see how someone with Holston’s reputation could commit the triple murder.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me and it’s just a very troubling situation,” Jones said. “But I can’t ignore the fact that three people were killed in the way that these three people were killed.”

Giordani read a statement from Barnett’s family, who wrote that before her death, she was taking college classes and caring for her son, who has struggled to understand what happened to his mother.

“She made some irresponsible decisions and she paid for them, but she did not deserve to be executed, shot down from behind,” Giordani read from the statement.

Harvey’s mother, Renee Harvey, also said that while her son “made some bad decisions,” he was a good father and step father who loved children and took care of his family.

Following the hearing, Connolly said Holston wanted his day in court, but accepts the sentence.

“Given the jury’s verdict, we think the sentence was fair,” she said.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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