In two months, the man who pulled the trigger in the fatal shooting of a gas station clerk in Waukesha in January 2015 will be sentenced for the murder.
Kenneth Thomas, 20, pleaded guilty on Friday, Feb. 26, to felony murder in the killing of 65-year-old Saeed Sharwani of the town of Brookfield, just days after the court also found the two other suspects in the case guilty.
Darrin Malone, 29, Thomas' accomplice in the armed robbery, was found guilty by a jury a week earlier, and Jerica Cotton, 24, who drove the two men to the gas station at 1445 Whiterock Ave., pleaded guilty four days prior.
Thomas will be sentenced by Judge Lloyd Carter at 8:30 a.m. May 4. He will remain at the Waukesha County Jail until the sentencing hearing. He had previously been confined to the Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun.
Thomas of West Allis was originally charged with first-degree intentional homicide with use of a dangerous weapon and was facing life in prison.
But as part of a plea deal with the state in exchange for his testimony against Malone during his trial, the state agreed to a reduced charge of felony murder for Thomas. That charge could result in a 40-year prison sentence. However, because the crime resulted in a death, Carter could add another 15 years onto the term.
Thomas also pleaded guilty to felony armed robbery for his role in an armed robbery at a 7-Eleven gas station at 19600 West Bluemound Road in the town of Brookfield a few days before the Waukesha gas station homicide. Five other charges against Thomas, which were related to both incidents, were dismissed but read into the record.
Thomas faces an initial 40 years in prison for the town of Brookfield robbery and an additional six years because he is a repeat felony offender, having previously been found guilty in Milwaukee County in 2014 of taking and driving a vehicle without consent, related to an incident when he was 17 years old in 2012.
In that case, a 15-month state prison sentence was stayed in favor of three years probation given by former Milwaukee County Judge William W. Brash.
Malone, Cotton also guilty
Cotton of Milwaukee pleaded guilty to armed robbery-party to a crime on Monday, Feb. 22. She faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted, 15 fewer than what she faced with the original charge of felony murder-party to a crime.
Cotton will be sentenced April 28.
Malone, who did not testify at his trial, could face up to 61 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of felony murder-party to a crime. He will be sentenced April 21.
According to the criminal complaint, Thomas told investigators that the night of the shooting, he, Malone and Cotton drove around Waukesha until they found the Citgo gas station. When they got near the Citgo, Malone allegedly handed Thomas the gun.
After being dropped off by Cotton, Thomas and Malone entered the gas station wearing green Halloween masks, which Thomas said Malone supplied, according to the complaint.
Thomas entered the station first, while Malone allegedly stayed in the background during the armed robbery and shooting. Thomas said in the complaint he jumped over the counter when he saw Sharwani drop money.
Thomas said Sharwani then came around the counter and grabbed him, which "scared him," and the gun, which was in his hand, went off. Thomas then ran out of the store and back to the car where Cotton and Malone were waiting. Thomas said in the complaint he told Cotton and Malone he had shot somebody and when asked by Malone if he did it on purpose he said "no," the complaint said.
Sharwani was shot in the chest and died a short time later after he called police.