A Pine Bluff man was sentenced Tuesday to 40 years in prison for first-degree murder, plus 10 years on a firearm charge.
After deliberating about two and-a-half hours, the jury of six women and six men found Tony Ray Boykins Jr., 28, guilty of first-degree murder in the July 27, 2011, shooting death of Brian K. Smith, 21, also of Pine Bluff.
Smith was shot during an altercation at an apartment complex in the 1300 block of South Maple Street, and taken to Jefferson Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
Acting on the jury’s verdict, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Berlin C. Jones sentenced Boykins, who was charged as an habitual offender, to 40 years in prison for first-degree murder, and another 10 years for using a firearm in the commission of the crime, with the two sentences to consecutively, or one after the other, which is mandated by the enhancement statute.
Because of a prior conviction for a violent crime (attempted first-degree murder in 2002), Boykins will have to serve 100 percent of his sentence for first-degree murder and 70 percent of the sentence for using a firearm during the commission of a crime before he is eligible to apply for parole.
As an habitual offender, Boykins could have been sentenced to up to 60 years for first-degree murder, and could have also been sentenced to 15 years on the firearm enhancement.
When the jury returned the guilty verdict, there was a bit of confusion, causing Jones to summon attorneys from both sides to the bench for a brief conference and a request for new jury forms.
It turned out that the jury foreman had completed three different forms, one each for first-degree murder, second-degree murder and manslaughter (lesser offenses of first-degree murder) when he was required to complete only one.
With the new forms, the jury went back and five minutes later returned with the correct form.
Claims by the defense that witnesses to the homicide identified the wrong man as the shooter were rejected by the jury Tuesday afternoon.
Boykins’ attorney, Greg Robinson, said during his closing argument that four women who testified for the state Monday “all told the same story.”
“Three of the four said step by step what Tony did,” Robinson said. “None of the witnesses mentioned that there were five other males who were there and none of them came out to help (during a reported fight between Smith, Simone Walker, who was the mother of Smith’s baby, and Terrell Boykins, Tony Boykins’ brother).”
Robinson focused specifically on a person who was identified only as “Pig,” who according to testimony from Marissa Gilbert Monday, was also involved in the fight.
“They didn’t tell police who he (Pig) was and I suspect he could be the shooter,” Robinson said. “Shame on Simone Walker, Eric (Mixon) and Tia (Sykes) if they’re trying to protect this man and send Tony Boykins to the penitentiary.
“It makes no sense,” said Robinson, who represented Boykins with attorney Erin West.
Mixon and Sykes both live on the second floor of the apartment complex, as did Walker at the time, and were present during the altercation and shooting. Gilbert lived on the first floor and said she was outside of her apartment at the time of the shooting.
Deputy Prosecutor Cymber Gieringer said that Robinson’s attempt to focus on Boykins as the wrong man was not based on the evidence presented during the trial.
“No one has come into this courtroom and said they saw anyone else do the shooting,” Gieringer said. “The only person identified was Tony Boykins and he shot Brian Smith.
“What benefit would the witnesses have for accusing Tony?” Gieringer said. “What makes sense about this is that maybe they said Tony did the shooting because Tony did the shooting.”
Associate State Medical Examiner Dr. Frank Peretti testified Tuesday morning that Smith was shot with a .22-caliber bullet that pierced the left lower portion of his back, with the wound going from back to front and left to right.
Police recovered a shell casing at the scene and Rebecca Mullen from the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory testified that the bullet recovered from Smith’s body could have been fired from the cartridge which police found.
On Monday, Mixon and Sykes both testified that they saw Boykins (who Sykes knew as “Booger”) shoot Smith after Smith and Terrell Boykins got into a fight on the balcony of the apartment complex, and Terrell Boykins pull Smith’s shirt over his head during the fight, while dragging Smith to Boykins’ apartment which was on the end of the complex on the second floor.
“Terrell was winning the fight so he didn’t need his brother to come and shoot somebody,” Robinson said.
Deputy Prosecutor Rik Ramsey said the disagreement began with an argument between Walker and Smith, then Terrell Boykin got involved.
Police were called and everyone was told to calm down and go back to their apartments, but a short time later, Walker and Smith began to argue again, and “Terrell injected himself into the discussion,” Ramsey said.
Terrell Boykins then reportedly hit Walker and she said on Monday that “Bryan came to my defense.”
“It was a one-on-one, pushing and shoving match to Apartment 9 (Terrell Boykins’ apartment),” Ramsey said. “Tony had gone to his car, returned to the top of the stairs, and fired two shots, and the second shot hit Brian Smith, who went down to the ground.”
Mixon said Monday that Tony Boykins had gone to his car, pulled up the hood of the vehicle, and taken a small caliber handgun from the battery compartment before coming back up the stairs.
“He purposely went to his car, got a gun and shot twice,” Ramsey said. “The medical examiner said the death was caused by a gunshot and the manner of death was homicide.”
In addition to the prior conviction for attempted first-degree murder, Boykins, who did not testify, was charged with felony theft by receiving in 2009 but that charge was reduced to a misdemeanor. He was placed on probation on Feb. 8, 2011, after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a defaced firearm and was on probation at the time of the shooting.