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Man sentenced to 6 years in prison for inciting murderous shooting | Crime and courts

CROWN POINT — The man who threw a “punch” that led to a fatal 2020 shooting inside a Gary gas station was sentenced to four years in prison on Friday.

Willie A. Jones Jr., 22, of Gary, could have faced up to six years in prison after pleading guilty in October to assault and battery resulting in grievous bodily harm in connection with the August 22, 2020 homicide, inside the Save gas station at the 4500 block of Broadway.

Rayvon Harris poses for a photo with his son, Rayvon Harris Jr.


Rayvon Harris, 29, father of a son, was shot seven times and died at the scene of the crime.

Jones was shot by one of his co-defendants and had part of his leg amputated as a result of his injuries.

Lake Criminal Court Judge Salvador Vasquez said it was clear Jones started the fight that led to Harris’ murder and the loss to Harris’ family was great.

The judge said Jones deserved some leniency for cooperating with the state and testifying against co-defendant Courtney M. Moss, 32, of Gary, who was convicted of murder in May and then sentenced to 65 years in prison.

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Myles Thomas, 28, of Gary, pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and was sentenced last month to 10 years in prison. A fourth co-accused, Roy C. Akins Jr., has been wanted for two years on a warrant in this case.

Harris’ grandfather, Edward Harris, thanked Jones for his cooperation with law enforcement, but said his grandson might not have been killed if not for Jones’ actions.

“Rayvon won’t walk without a limb,” he said. “He won’t change his prosthesis. He only has a coffin.”

Edward Harris said he wanted to know why Jones and his friends wanted to hurt his unarmed grandson.

“Somehow this system has to capture reality,” he said. “I read it every day. People look like me. My brothers are killing each other. It’s horrifying. I read it every day, over and over again.”

Edward Harris said Jones and his friends would not have fought his grandson directly.

“It took four men with three guns,” he said.

Still, he prayed that Jones would learn from his mistake and leave prison a better man, he said.

Rayvon Harris’ friend, Melisa Maali, said Harris’ son always asked family members where his father was and why he wasn’t coming home.

“It’s going to take years. It’s been two already,” she said. “I don’t know how long this is going to be, and I can’t rush it. All I can do is support him.”

Jones did not respond to Edward Harris’ question about why Rayvon Harris was being targeted.

“I’m sorry about what happened to Rayvon,” he said. “I know what I did was wrong.”

Jones said he drank alcohol and smoked marijuana the night of the homicide. He said he wanted to register for disability benefits and earn his GED after he got out of prison and “be a leader, not a follower.”

Lake County Assistant District Attorney Jovanni Miramontes requested a six-year sentence.

Jones was free on bail in a Marion County case at the time of the homicide. He later pleaded guilty to carrying a handgun without a license.

Defense attorney Joseph Roberts requested a “time served” sentence.

Jones was the only co-defendant who did not have a gun, he said.

Jones never wanted the fight to go as far as he did, and he would likely respond well to probation or short-term jail time, Roberts said.

Jones has already served about two years in prison pending resolution of his case. With time, he will have to serve about one more year.