Defense attorney for accused NYE shooter claims client used self defense night of deadly shooting

The judge in this case ordered Thomas be held without bond, using Aniah’s Law.
Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 11:09 PM CST
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - The attorney for the accused New Year’s Eve shooter is claiming his client used self-defense.

Chase Dearman who’s representing Thomas Thomas Jr. says the man Thomas is accused of killing was the aggressor.

Thomas is accused of murdering 24-year-old JaTarious Reives and shooting and injuring nine others.

Mobile PD: 9 people wounded, 1 dead in downtown Mobile New Year’s Eve shooting

The judge in this case ordered Thomas be held without bond, using Aniah’s Law.

Under Aniah’s Law, it gives judges more discretion to deny bail to people for violent offenses.

Mobile Police Chief Paul Prine says the judge made the right call.

“I think the judge got it right. He gave Mr. Thomas no bond for the murder and we believe that was the right call to make,” Chief Prine said.

During court testimony Thursday, a detective says Thomas fired off 16 of the 22 rounds shot that night.

The detective says the gun recovered from Thomas was a Glock with an illegal switch attached to make it fully automatic.

One person was shot to death and nine others were injured. Two businesses were also struck by gunfire.

Dearman says surveillance video shows Thomas and Reives got into an argument before the shooting.

In explaining the video, Dearman says words were exchanged between the two and that Reives walked away to retrieve a gun that he tucked away in his pants.

“He said I’m going to shoot...but I wish to shoot you,” Dearman said. “And then he trots off down about fifteen feet. And he stays down there for 6 or 7 minutes. You can see the man hand him...he lifts his shirt takes it and puts it in there and then he jogs right back to where my client is.”

The detective testified that Thomas was the initial shooter and that the victim, Reives, never fired the gun he had tucked away.

The detective goes on to say that a friend of Reives, Morgan Peters, is the one that shot Thomas that night firing a total of six shots.

Chief Prine who was also present in the courtroom Thursday doesn’t agree that Reives was the instigator.

“I don’t know that we heard the same argument. I don’t believe that we share that same sentiment of whether or not our victim was the aggressor,” Chief Prine said.

Chief Prine says it’s not likely that Peters will face any charges for allegedly shooting back at Thomas.

As for the seven innocent one has been charged with shooting them.

“We had arguments today about self-defense claims and so there’s some argument as to whether or not Mr. Peters and Mr. Thomas when they shot each other there could be some self-defense claims. Which is why Mr. Peters was not charged. We will leave that decision up to the district attorney’s office,” Chief Prine said.

As far as Thomas’ other charges of 1st-degree assault and shooting into an occupied/unoccupied building, he received a $150,000 bond.

The case is bound over to a grand jury.


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