Co-defendants in Elvin Kimble homicide case receive prison time

Two men who played a role in the 2015 shooting death of 19-year-old Elvin Kimble have been sentenced to state prison after pleading guilty to downgraded criminal offenses.

Originally arrested on heavy murder charges, Gary Spears, 35, of Trenton, pleaded guilty to first-degree aggravated manslaughter and has been sentenced to 10 years of incarceration while co-defendant Jermaine Johnson, 41, of Ewing, pleaded guilty to third-degree hindering prosecution and has been sentenced to five years behind bars.

Gary Spears (left) and Jermaine Johnson

Gary Spears (left) and Jermaine Johnson

Kimble suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the back during the early morning hours of Nov. 24, 2015. Prior to the shooting, Kimble was seen earlier in the night allegedly breaking into Johnson’s vehicle. Johnson gave chase and Kimble allegedly fired in his direction. Johnson then recruited the help of Spears to retaliate, and Spears fired the shot that ended Kimble’s life, according to statements prosecutors previously made in the case.

Elvin Kimble

Elvin Kimble

On the date of the slaying, police about 12:40 a.m. responded to the area of Chestnut Avenue and Rusling Street on a report of shots fired and found evidence of a gunfight but no evidence of a homicide. Police later returned to that same area about 6:20 a.m. and then found Kimble’s dead body lying between a fence and a parked car in the city’s Chambersburg neighborhood.

The slain Kimble was reportedly wearing a ski mask and still had a gun in his hand when police found him slumped over near a van on the 700 block of Division Street.

The Mercer County Homicide Task Force and a U.S. Marshals regional task force arrested Spears and Johnson on Jan. 15, 2016, charging them with first-degree murder and weapons offenses in connection with the shooting death of Kimble.

Both men were being held at the Mercer County Correction Center on $1 million cash bail and got indicted in October 2016 on murder charges. If they had taken their case to trial and got convicted on first-degree murder, they would have been hit with 30 to 75 years in prison.

Rather than fight the charges in a court of law, Spears and Johnson admitted their roles in the grisly retaliation slaying of Kimble.

Spears confessed to being the triggerman responsible for Kimble’s death. He pleaded guilty to the downgraded charge of first-degree aggravated manslaughter on July 17 before Judge Robert Bingham II and had his other charges dismissed Sept. 15 after Bingham sentenced him to 10 years of incarceration.

Johnson pleaded guilty before Judge Bingham on July 24 to a one-count accusation charging him with third-degree hindering apprehension or prosecution by giving false information to a law-enforcement officer. Bingham lowered Johnson’s bail to 10 percent of $50,000 cash bail on July 24 after Johnson pleaded guilty. Bingham eventually sentenced Johnson to five years of incarceration on Sept. 15, at which time the state dismissed the murder charges and weapons offenses against him.

Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Tim Ward was the prosecutor in the case, Spears was represented by pool attorney George B. Somers Jr. and Johnson was represented by public defender Jessica Lyons.

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