A 40-year-old Dermott man escaped a possible death sentence this week when a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder in the January 2016 double murder in Monticello.

Had Lavar T. Thompson been convicted of capital murder, he could have faced the death penalty. The maximum sentence for first-degree murder is life in prison.

Thompson was charged with two counts of capital murder in the shooting deaths of Jeremiah Johnson and Sholonda Binns, both of Monticello. He was also charged with attempted capital murder in the non-fatal shooting of Kareena Gold and aggravated residential burglary in connection with the fatal shooting death of Binns.

Thompson received three life sentences and an additional 50 years.

Kareena Gold testified this week that she, Johnson, and Thompson on January 10, 2016 were at “Uncle Herman’s”, an establishment in Monticello that she characterized as a “hole in the wall” and “juke joint.”

Before daylight, the trio left “Uncle Herman’s” in Gold’s Lincoln Town Car, headed toward Johnson’s home on Cooper Street. Gold said she was driving, Johnson was in the front passenger seat, and Thompson was in the back seat. When they arrived at Johnson’s home, she said she was about to get out of the car when she heard a “pop.” Initially, she didn’t realize she had been shot, she thought the sound was music coming from the stereo speakers in her car.

Eventually, she realized that both she and Johnson had been shot. Johnson was slumped over in the front seat of her car. She got out of her car and went to a nearby residence and called 911. During the call, she realized her car was gone.

A short time later, Thompson showed up at the home of Markeia Jamison and Sholonda Binns. Jamison and Binns were in bed. Thompson broke into the home, climbed into the bed and fatally shot Binns, according to Jamison’s testimony.

Jamison said he managed to get the gun from Thompson, shot him, and called 911.

Gold’s car was found on Chester Street. The motor was still running and inside the vehicle was Jeremiah Jones. He was deceased.

Thompson was arrested at Jamison’s residence and taken to a hospital.

Thompson’s defense was that he was severely impaired by alcohol when the crimes took place.

He had fallen two times the night of the murders and was “so drunk it was considered alcohol poisoning,” his attorney said. “There was no reason for Lavar to hurt his best friends.”