Second teen accused in death of North Webster football star pleads guilty

Crime

WEBSTER PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The second of two teens accused in the 2017 death of a North Webster High School student pleaded guilty to manslaughter Monday and was sentenced to 20 years in prison with credit for time served.

Keshawn Johnson

Keshawn Johnson was convicted in the Nov. 27, 2017 shooting death of Jaylen Thomas, 17-year-year old high school junior and star football player for the North Webster Knights.

Johnson, who was 15 at the time of the shooting, was tried as an adult.

He was arrested in June 2017 and charged with second-degree murder in Thomas’ death – seven months after 17-year-old Josh Lewis was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

On Jan. 14, 2019, a Webster Parish Jury found Lewis guilty of second-degree murder and on April 8, 2019, Lewis was sentenced to life in prison; however, because he was a juvenile at the time of the crime, he will be eligible for parole after he serves 25 years.

Josh Lewis

After Monday’s guilty plea in Webster Parish District Court, Johnson was immediately sentenced to 20 years in prison, with credit for almost four years he has spent behind bars since his 2017 arrest.

It started over an argument at school and it was a coincidence the two encountered each other later that night at the Springhill park where Lewis shot Thomas, according to Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd.

Lynd said both Lewis and Thomas were big brothers to two younger men who were in an argument over a girl and who decided to call on the older brothers for help. That’s how Lewis ended up shooting Thomas, Lynd said.

Thomas was crossing a church parking lot when walking back to work at Sonic Drive-in after going to see his girlfriend during his break when a car pulled up and someone started shooting. Thomas was shot multiple times as he tried to run.

In the beginning, authorities said there was no indication anyone besides Lewis was involved in the shooting, but crime lab analysis indicated two guns – both .45 caliber – were used to kill Thomas.

Fourteen shots were fired, and two unspent rounds were found at the scene.

Prosecutors in Johnson’s case where Webster Parish Assistant District Attorneys Melanie McCullough and Jimbo Yocom. Shreveport attorney Joel Pierce defended represented Johnson.

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