A Calhoun County judge on Thursday upheld a jury’s recommendation that Jovon Gaston be executed for his part in the killing of a Wellborn teacher.
Gaston, Nick Smith, and Tyrone Thompson were charged with capital murder in the 2011 kidnapping, robbery, and stabbing death of Kevin Thompson. Smith was convicted and sentenced to death in a July 2013 trial. Thompson, who is seeking money to pay a mental health expert, is still awaiting trial.
A Calhoun County jury on Oct. 6 found Gaston guilty of capital murder.
Before the hearing, Gaston was led into the courtroom, dreadlocks shaved off, wearing a new prisoner’s uniform and shackles on his hands and feet.
The victim’s mother and sister, Frances and Rena Curry, huddled next to each other prepared to make statements to Circuit Judge Bud Turner. Frances Curry approached a podium and addressed Turner.
“I would like to ask the judge to please hold what the jury has delivered,” she said. “He is going to get so many more years than my son ever got.”
Curry turned to talk to Gaston.
“I forgive you, but that is as far as it goes,” she said. “But I forgive you simply because I serve a higher being. You don’t, you serve the opposite being.”
Rena Curry, Kevin Thompson’s sister, shared fewer words but asked the judge to uphold the jury’s recommendation.
“I don’t have a lot to ask you,” she said to Turner. “I just ask you to agree with the jury. I no longer have a brother. I’m trying to be two people for my momma.”
John Foster Sr. and John Foster Jr., Gaston’s father and brother, took the stand to plead for his life.
“I know I can’t say anything to get your son back and for that I’m sorry,” the younger Foster said to Frances Curry. “I know he came up hard and that is no excuse for what he did or what they say he did. If he was given life without parole he could never get out. He could never hurt nobody again and I think that would be just.”
Foster Sr. spoke quietly and through pauses to collect his emotions.
“I am very sorry for your family,” he said. “I raised my son better than that. I did the best I could.”
For the first time, Gaston spoke to the court.
“There are not enough words for me to speak to apologize for what happened to your son,” he explained to Curry. “Your son is gone, but I am not the one that took your son’s life. I thank God that he gave me the strength to step up today and say these words. Again, I’m sorry Ms. Curry.”
Turner asked Gaston to approach the bench for his sentencing.
“The victim in this case was loving, and a compassionate son and brother,” Turner said. “He was thoughtful. He was a great young man. He was inspiring to many children and his coworkers. He was all that. So, it is the court’s adjudication to follow the jury’s recommendation.”
Gaston’s defense counsel has 40 days to file an appeal.