KINGSTON – The man who was with Gilbert Thomas on December 17, 2020, when Thomas opened fire on a house with an AK-47, killing 12-year-old D’Janeira Mason inside, pled guilty in Ulster County Court to criminal possession of a weapon and drugs, and was sentenced to 20 years in state prison.
Robert “Nikki” James said he told Thomas not to shoot because there were children inside, but he said Thomas said he didn’t care. Thomas then shot nine times. Two of the bullets entered a bedroom with five kids in it and struck and killed D’Janeira.
James was arrested and indicted for murder along with Thomas. A reduced plea agreement was reached with James, who was to be sentenced to 13 years in prison.
After his guilty plea, he provided false statements to the county probation department about whether he knowingly possessed a weapon. The statements contradicted what he said in his guilty plea.
At sentencing, District Attorney David Clegg said James had violated his obligation to be truthful and the DA argued neither his office nor the court was bound by the plea agreement.
Clegg gave James the opportunity to admit to his violation and receive an enhanced sentence adding seven years to his prison term or face a hearing and if a violation was found, he could face a longer sentence.
James eventually admitted to the violation and was sentenced by Judge Bryan Rounds to a 20-year sentence.