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Tuck gets life in prison without parole

Staff Writer

A Troy man will be spending the rest of his life in prison for a crime he committed when he was 20 years old.

Toney DeAngelo Tuck was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Tuesday afternoon for the shooting death of 19-year-old Larry Laron Tucker of Troy.

It only took the jury of five men and seven women a matter of minutes to find the defendant guilty. Tuck had already pleaded guilty on the capital murder charges.

Tucker was shot on July 30, 1997 in a drive-by shooting on Montgomery Street that occurred around 11:15 p.m.

After Circuit Judge Thomas Head handed down the sentence to Tuck, his attorney Bill Key had no comment.

Assistant District Attorney Larry Jarrell, who tried the case on behalf of the State of Alabama, said he is glad the almost three-year-old case has been resolved.

"We’re just glad it’s behind us," Jarrell said. "It gives the family some closure."

Jarrell also said the state is "satisfied with the results" in the case.

In his opening statements,

said Tucker’s "life (was) ended by the bullet of a semi-automatic pistol in the hands of Toney DeAngelo Tuck."

According to testimony, Tucker was standing in the driveway of 135 Montgomery Street talking to friends, who were in a car, when gunfire erupted less than half an hour after Tuck threatened to kill him.

Jarrell referred to initial questioning of witnesses when he told the jury about Tuck’s words to his victim ­ "If you’re out here when I come back by here, I’ll kill you."

About 15 minutes later, Tuck opened fire from the backseat of a car driven by Diakist Ceadre Johnson who was 19 at the time.

Tucker was shot through the arm. The bullet entered his chest, damaging major arteries and causing him to bleed to death.

"We’re lucky, in this incident, only one person was shot," Jarrell said of the incident he described as bullets "sprayed across" the scene.

Stark Laney, a detective with the Troy Police Department, was the one who investigated the scene of the crime.

He testified that seven spent shell casings from a .9 millimeter Ruger were recovered from the scene and tests conducted by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences determined the bullets were fired from the weapon recovered from an apartment on Trojan Way, where Tuck was located just after the shooting.

Capt. Lewis Fannin, also a detective with the Troy Police Department, said the pistol was found in a "dirty clothes hamper in the bathroom" at the apartment.

Fannin also testified that Tuck admitted to having and firing the gun.

Terry Pelton was with Tucker the night he was killed. He said Tuck had verbally threatened his cousin.

"He was hanging out the window yelling ‘I’m going to kill you …’" Pelton testified.

About 15 minutes later, he said, shots were fired.

After the drive-by shooting, Tuck and the others in the car went to the apartment on Trojan Way. Tracy McNair was there when they arrived.

"They came in and he (Tuck) said, ‘I shot somebody,’" McNair said, adding he didn’t believe the story until he saw a bullet in the toilet when he went to the bathroom.

He said Tuck "started toward the back door" when the police arrived about 10 minutes later.

Diakist Johnson was driving the car when Tuck took the life of Tucker.

Wearing the white prison uniform of Fountain Correctional Facility, Johnson pointed to the shooter who was wearing a black short-sleeved shirt.

Johnson testified Tuck "got aggravated" when he saw Tucker as they passed by on their way to take a friend home.

"When I came back by the house, he started shooting," said Johnson, who is serving time for his part in the murder.

After almost two hours of testimony, the state rested its case and Key said he had no witnesses to put on the stand.

In his closing remarks, Jarrell said Tucker’s "life was brutally taken" by a "coward" who fired a pistol from the safety of a passing car.

"He (the victim) never had a chance to defend himself," Jarrell said of the man who was talking with friends in a place he thought he was safe.

"There’s no question that this gun is the murder weapon," Jarrell said, adding forensics tests proved the bullet casings found were fired from that gun.

"I don’t think there’s any question Tuck fired the weapon from the vehicle" and that would determine a charge of capital murder.

"This man intended to kill somebody," Jarrell said of the defendant.

In his remarks, Key said the "full story" hadn’t been told and the jury had heard what "might have happened" that night.

Jarrell responded "there no ‘might’ in this."

Tuck, who will be ordered to pay fees in addition to his prison sentence, has the right to appeal Tuesday’s verdict within 42 days.