LIMA — One of two men initially charged with murder in the January 2019 shooting death of Lima resident Branson Tucker was sentenced Tuesday to five years on probation on a charge of having a weapon under disability.
Defense Attorney Steve Chamberlain said Jerome Fuqua played a “minor role” in Tucker’s death, noting that the man who pulled the trigger in the case was acquitted after a jury found he had acted in self defense.
Fuqua, 61, and fellow Lima resident Kenneth Cobb were taken into custody on Jan. 16, 2019, one day after Tucker was found dead inside a vehicle in the 600 block of Michael Avenue. Tucker was found suffering from a gunshot wound to the torso and died later that morning at a local hospital.
Testimony at Cobb’s trial revealed the shooting came about as tempers flared during a gambling session at an after-hours establishment at 975 St. Johns Ave., Lima. Cobb and Fuqua were indicted by a grand jury the following month on charges of murder, felonious assault with a firearm specification and having a weapon under disability in connection with Tucker’s death.
Cobb took his case to trial, where jurors heard his attorney advance a self-defense claim by arguing Cobb was protecting himself from physical harm when he shot Tucker in the leg during the confrontation over gambling proceeds.
Cobb was convicted of felonious assault but was acquitted on the murder charge. He was sentenced to 14 years behind bars.
Fuqua previously admitted he provided the weapon used in the shooting and told Judge Terri Kohlrieser during Tuesday’s hearing that he had retrieved the weapon from the upstairs area of the St. Johns Avenue residence when he heard the argument escalate.
“Mr. Fuqua knew he was not allowed to possess a gun (due to a previous felony conviction) and if he had not been in possession of a gun that evening Brandon Tucker would still be alive today,” Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kenneth Sturgill said. “He knew there was a dispute going on and he still gave Mr. Cobb the gun. This is a lot more serious than a standard” third-degree felony.
Tucker’s mother, Carmillia, had harsher words for Fuqua.
“I despise you. If not for you none of this would have happened,” she told the defendant. “I don’t care about your health ‘cause you didn’t care about my baby. But now I have to forgive you if I ever want to see my son again.”
Kohlrieser in passing sentence said there was “nothing to indicate” that Fuqua knew Cobb was going to shoot Branson Tucker when he handed him the weapon.
“On one hand this offense lends itself to community control, while on the other hand a person is dead. That’s where I’m struggling,” the judge said.
She ordered the five-year term of probation and warned Fuqua that “one toe out of line” of compliance with that order could see him sent to prison for up to 36 months.
Fuqua already served nearly two years in the Allen County jail following his arrest, a factor Kohlrieser said she took into account when crafting her sentence.