James Dodson Jr. argued Monday the man he's accused of killing pulled a gun on him.
But prosecutors countered that Dodson left Michael LoVett Jr.'s barbershop after an argument only to return and gun LoVett down on the sidewalk outside his Lake Avenue business.
Seventeen shell casings were found, and LoVett was shot multiple times, including “two kill shots” to the head and abdomen, Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Tasha Lee said.
Allen Superior Court Judge David Zent called Dodson, 35, “the worst of the worst” before sentencing him Monday to 871/2 years in prison.
A jury found Dodson guilty last month of murder, criminal recklessness and using a gun in the commission of a crime in the April 9 death of LoVett, 46.
Police said Dodson was a customer at The Legendary Barbershop on Lake Avenue near North Anthony Boulevard when he left the business about 5:30 p.m. and returned about a half-hour later. He was one of three men who confronted LoVett before the business owner was killed, according to court documents. Only Dodson was charged.
U.S. marshals arrested him in Mississippi in May.
Lee said the shooting stemmed from an argument about religion.
LoVett's mother, Debra Causey, told the judge her son, whose nickname was “champ,” loved to spend time with his six children and didn't deserve to die that way.
“I forgive him from my heart, but he needs to stay in prison forever,” Causey said during Dodson's nearly 90-minute sentencing hearing. “He does not need to get out and hurt another family.”
Zent sentenced Dodson to 65 years for murder, 21/2 years for criminal recklessness and 20 years for using a gun in the commission of a crime, for a total of 871/2 years behind bars.
After he was sentenced, Dodson again told the judge LoVett pointed a pistol at him and that prosecutors “wanted to sweep that under the rug.”
Zent and Allen County sheriff's officers reminded spectators to calm down as the courtroom became noisier. Family and friends of both Dodson and LoVett attended the hearing, and officers followed them outside as they left.
“Long live Champ,” one man shouted.