A Houston man was sentenced Friday to 50 years in prison for killing a stranger during a mid-morning confrontation in a gas-station parking lot in 2021, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced.
“Shooting someone 15 times over an argument about a car is an absolutely senseless and pointless murder, and this happened in broad daylight,” Ogg said. “Gun violence is never the right way to settle a dispute, and our hearts go out to the victim’s friends and family.”
Elijah Malik Kaluanya, 27, was convicted of murder by a Harris County jury after a four-day trial last week for killing 34-year-old Demrick Thomas.
After being convicted, Kaluanya opted to have state District Judge Andrea Beall decide punishment, and she sentenced him to 50 years.
Kaluanya went to a convenience store in a white Mercedes-Benz sedan in the 12800 block of Northborough, near Greenspoint in north Houston, about 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 14, 2021.
Thomas, the victim, drove up about a half-hour later and parked next to Kaluanya. After Thomas got out of his vehicle, Kaluanya confronted him because Kaluanya thought Thomas had “dinged” the door of his Mercedes.
The two men argued, and then Kaluanya pulled a handgun and shot Thomas 15 times. Kaluanya left the store and continued to run errands, including going to an auto-parts store to buy an alternator for his car.
Thomas was transported to the hospital, where he died from his wounds.
Homicide detectives from the Houston Police Department pulled the surveillance video from the store, which showed the entire incident. The video showed that Thomas did not ding Kaluanya’s car. Houston police officers were able to identify Kaluanya and arrest him.
Assistant District Attorney Maroun Koutani prosecuted the case.
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