FORT WAYNE – Among the last words to come out of Jabron Q. Totton’s mouth were that he loved everyone like a brother.
A man holding a gun at that moment, though, told him flatly: You’re not my brother.
Then he fired.
That man, identified as 36-year-old Eric J. Smith, was sentenced Friday in Allen Superior Court to 90 years in prison for killing Totton.
The shooting took place outside American Legion Post 148 at South Hanna and East Lewis streets over the summer. It stemmed from Smith’s thought that Totton and another man were talking about him, according to court documents.
Convicted by a jury last month of felony counts of murder, using a firearm to commit a killing and unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, Smith showed no remorse during the sentencing hearing.
He also maintained his innocence.
Two members of Totton’s family spoke about losing a man they adored and a man who went out of his way to make everyone smile.
For some in his family, he provided a link to his father, Willie Quinn, who died previously and whom Totton resembled.
My brother, not only was he my brother, he was the missing link to my father, said Totton’s sister, Ratoshia Smith. That piece is gone. I don’t have that anymore.
His family spoke about how he always made time for his two daughters and loved making them pancakes every Saturday morning.
Upon his death, Ratoshia Smith was struck with how many people contacted her or came up to her to offer their condolences, to talk to her about her brother.
They did this even though they didn’t know her and didn’t have to, she said.
He built bonds with everyone, Ratoshia Smith said during the hearing. It’s not fair. I don’t know what to say. It’s not fair.
During his trial, witnesses testified how they watched Eric Smith coldly walk up to a car in which Totton and another man sat before the shooting.
He asked both whether they were talking about him.
I love everyone like a brother, Totton said.
That’s when Smith said he wasn’t Totton’s brother, pulled out the gun and shot him, according to court testimony.
Smith then put the gun in the front of his pants and walked nonchalantly away, according to court testimony.
Security cameras at the Legion also caught the shooting, which was played in court.
Bonnie Totton, Jabron Totton’s sister-in-law, said in court Friday people had heard Smith was out trying to make his name on the street.
You made a name for yourself, all right, she said, admonishing Smith. You made a name for yourself as a heartless, cold-blooded killer.
Smith remained emotionless during the family’s testimony.
Nobody testified on Smith’s behalf Friday.
His public defense attorney, John Bohdan, only argued that the sentences for each count against his client be served concurrently, not consecutively.
Smith said he was dissatisfied with his attorney, though he noted in a statement that Bohdan did the best he could under the circumstances.
He complained that Allen County prosecutors failed to show all the evidence.
He also noted his plans to appeal.
Even though the jury found me guilty, I am innocent of the crime I’m accused of, Smith said.
A criminal record that includes a few felonies did not help Smith as Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull handed down the sentence.
She gave him 65 years for the murder charge, enhanced by five years for using a gun and 20 years for unlawful possession of a gun as a serious violent felon.
And she ordered him to serve it all consecutively.
There is nothing I can do to make this better for your family, and I apologize for that, Gull said to Totton’s family before pronouncing her sentence.
She gave Smith 133 days served for time he spent in Allen County Jail awaiting trial, and she said she would appoint a new public defender to handle his appeal.
He’ll have to begin preparing for that, though, while in the Indiana Department of Correction.