Drug deals that involve guns ended the way they often do Thursday in criminal court. One man in a cemetery, the other sent to prison.
Marquise Cole, 24, admitted to shooting Jason Adon, 21, in May 2016. Cole pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and weapons charges Thursday in Adon’s death outside apartments on Rock Hill’s Workman Street.
Cole accepted a plea deal of 18 years in prison, negotiated by prosecutors and his lawyer, York County Deputy Public Defender B.J. Barrowclough.
Cole also pleaded guilty to second offense drug dealing involving heroin and marijuana from another arrest, in which Cole was sitting in a car smoking pot with bags of heroin in the door console.
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Cole admitted he was using and dealings drugs with Adon at the time of the killing. He shot Adon because he was scared Adon would shoot him first, said Willy Thompson, 16th Circuit Deputy Solicitor, in court.
The men were outside the apartments, where families live, armed and dealing and using drugs. Adon had been the victim of a robbery before and was “acting irrationally,” Thompson said.
“They were selling and doing drugs together,” Thompson said in court. “You see it all too often in York County, and I am sure in other places across the state ... that involvement in drugs, not just consuming them, but in dealing them, becomes a violent endeavor.”
Cole shot Adon five times.
But Cole said in court Thursday he would change his actions, his behavior, if he could.
“I can’t bring Jason back,” Cole told the judge. “I want to tell his family and friends I am truly sorry.”
Adon’s family was in court, but did not speak. Cole’s family did speak, saying he was raised different than to do what he did in killing someone.
Cole was a stone mason with a good job and a wife and two young children, testimony showed.
But Cole, a smart and soft-spoken man, fell in with the wrong crowd, said Barrowclough his lawyer. That was a crowd that used and sold drugs, that carried guns, that used violence to settle problems.
“He fell prey to the temptation of his friends on the street, the temptation of easy money from selling drugs,” Barrowclough said.
Visiting Judge Brian Gibbons praised all sides, including the family of Adon, for settling the dispute with a plea.
Gibbons told Cole that, in a dozen years of hearing shooting and killing cases involving drugs, he knows when somebody is a cold-hearted killer and is numbed to the importance of human life.
Cole, Gibbons said, was not one of those killers.
“I can see it,” Gibbons told Cole.
Gibbons put it plainly: “You took a life. And for that, you are going to pay your debt to society.”
That debt came due Thursday. Eighteen years in prison, and a man dead.