Murder/battery charges dropped against Basement suspect Thomas

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Other suspect, Kalius Lane, goes to trial next week

JONESBORO, Ark. – Murder and battery charges were dropped against Chauncey Thomas this week from the May, 2017 shooting at The Basement in Downtown Jonesboro.

Thomas, 19, was sentenced to five years SIS and 120 days in jail with credit for time served. He was originally charged with first degree murder and six counts of first degree battery in the early Sunday, May 14, Jonesboro shooting which claimed the life of Monterio Barnes, 18, of Jonesboro. Later that day, Thomas turned himself in while the accused killer, Kalius Jaciel Lane, 20, also of Jonesboro, ran to Texas. Lane was captured the following day.

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Thomas was only seen by one witness to have had a gun in hand, court records show. All other witnesses authorities spoke to stated Lane was the gunman. Forensic evidence indicated two shooters were involved in the event. However, the prosecutor’s office didn’t have sufficient evidence to prosecute Thomas as one of the shooters. It is still believed two individuals fired a weapon in the panicked crowd that night.

While Thomas could not be prosecuted for his original charges, authorities believed he cooperated with Lane and helped him evade police. This predicated their decision to agree to the plea deal of hindering apprehension. Having been in Craighead County Detention Center since last May, he served more than his sentence of 120 days in jail, the maximum for hindering apprehension, and was released.

A source close to Thomas said he did not want to talk about the case but was, “glad to be free.”

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In the early morning hours of Sunday, May 14, Jonesboro police officers were dispatched to The Basement, 311 S. Main St., Jonesboro, in regard to a shooting that had occurred at a large party being held at the event venue.

One victim, Montario Barnes, was pronounced dead at the scene. Six additional victims were taken to area hospitals and treated for gunshot injuries. Witnesses identified both defendants as the suspects and Jonesboro Police Department detectives obtained warrants for their arrests. Thomas himself surrendered to authorities the same day, while Lane fled to Texas, where United States marshals apprehended him.

Lane’s case goes to trial next week. He has pleaded not guilty.

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