Prosecutors expressed concern Tuesday with the sentence given to an Omaha man who stabbed a man to death during a Christmas Eve fight over a parking spot.
Douglas County District Judge Joseph Troia sentenced Victor Gray, 55, to eight to 10 years in prison for manslaughter and eight to 10 years in prison for being a felon in possession of a knife during the Dec. 24, 2012, stabbing death of Milton Thomas, 42. The stabbing occurred at an apartment complex at 56th Street and Ames Avenue.
Troia ordered that the sentences run concurrently. Under state sentencing guidelines — which cut most sentences in half — Gray will serve four years before he is eligible for parole and five years before release.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said he thought the sentence was “on the lenient end” — especially considering that Gray had killed before.
Gray had been convicted of second-degree murder in the 1993 shooting death of a man in Memphis, Tenn. In that case, Gray shot a man three times after an argument.
In this case, Gray and Thomas had argued after Thomas had blocked a parking stall while loading Christmas gifts into his car for his children.
Prosecutors initially charged Gray with second-degree murder. However, Kleine said, witness accounts indicated that both Gray and Thomas had gotten into an argument — an argument that led to the stabbing.
Gray had told authorities he was only trying to get Thomas to move his car when Thomas came out aggressively and using foul language. Gray told police he pulled out the knife for protection and the victim lunged at him, causing the stab wound.
Thomas' girlfriend had a different version, saying Thomas had been “cool and calm” and had told Gray he didn't want to argue.
Kleine said prosecutors allowed Gray to plead to manslaughter — the killing of someone during a sudden quarrel — and weapon possession.
The judge could have sentenced Gray to up to 40 years in prison — 20 years real time.
Kleine said prosecutors had hoped the judge would at least run the manslaughter and weapon possession sentences one after the other.