Kommika Gregory, Minot, found guilty of manslaughter
A jury in Minot found Kommika Katrice Gregory, 39, guilty of Class B felony manslaughter Wednesday afternoon after five hours of deliberation.
Gregory went to trial Monday on a charge that she shot and killed Ronald Stanley Thompson, 58, on Nov. 16, 2017 at a Minot apartment. The jury received the case shortly before 11 a.m. on Wednesday and returned the verdict about 4 p.m. During deliberations, they asked questions, including about the definition of “negligent.”
Gregory had been charged with Class AA felony murder, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole, but Judge Gary Lee permitted the jury to consider the lesser offenses of B felony manslaughter and C felony negligent homicide.
In North Dakota, a manslaughter charge means that the defendant “recklessly” caused the death of another person. A Class B felony carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Manslaughter committed with a weapon carries a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in prison.
Sentencing is set for Jan. 8.
Gregory had testified that she killed Thompson in self defense after Thompson intervened in a dispute between Gregory and her ex-boyfriend, put his hands on her, threatened to take away her gun and shoot her with it and blocked her path to the door. Gregory shot Thompson three times. She testified that she fired the second and third shots because he kept coming towards her.
Ward County Deputy State’s Attorney Kelly Dillon said that the forensic evidence did not add up with Gregory’s account of the final confrontation. Dillon argued that the evidence showed that Thompson was in a defensive crouch, holding his arm in front of his chest, when he was shot and that he was standing near the sofa in the apartment rather than in the hallway blocking Gregory’s path to the door.
Gregory told jurors that she received a “pocket dial” phone call from her ex-boyfriend’s phone on the day before the incident. She overheard people conversing about having her killed and was alarmed. She recorded the conversation using her son’s cell phone and played it back for other people, but never considered calling the police to report the alleged threat because of her distrust of the police. She decided she needed a gun for protection and ended up buying one from an acquaintance in the Walmart parking lot for $200 and 10 Ecstasy pills on the night before the shooting. He didn’t have bullets, but one of his friends did. She raced that teenager to his house to get the bullets because he had a fast car. Then, after her friend, Frederick Cherry, decided he didn’t want to go home with her and told her she was overreacting, Gregory went back to her house and made arrangements to hang out with the young Hispanic man from whom she had just purchased the gun. He smoked a blunt and expressed interest in her. She played the recording for him and he agreed that it was messed up, but didn’t take any action. Gregory’s 10-year-old son was also present in the apartment at this time.
A few hours later, Gregory decided to confront her ex-boyfriend, Rodrekus Butler. She left her son alone in the apartment. She decided to take the gun for protection in case any of Butler’s acquaintances were there with him. When she reached the apartment, she said she knocked on the door and Butler let her in and then went back to his bedroom. She followed him and tried to discuss the phone call. He denied knowing anything about it, but she said he eventually agreed to come back to her apartment to discuss the matter. She said Thompson tried to intervene several times and told her she needed to leave.
When she went back to the living room, there was a confrontation with Thompson that ended with Thompson dead of three gunshot wounds.
Gregory fled the apartment and got a ride to New Town, where she made arrangements to turn herself in to authorities later that day at the casino in New Town.
Police never recovered the recording of the conversation that set off the chain of events. Butler, the only other witness to the confrontation, died in June.