A Houston man was sentenced to life in prison this week for fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend in 2020 while he was on deferred adjudication probation for setting his ex-wife’s home on fire, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced.
“We know that domestic violence generally escalates, and in too many cases, like this, it escalates to a homicide,” Ogg said. “We sought justice for both of the women that this man victimized, and hopefully a life sentence will give his victims and their families some peace.”
Javon Gilbert, 31, was sentenced late Monday by state District Judge Brian Warren after a four-day hearing to revoke Gilbert’s probation and determine the appropriate punishment for killing his ex-girlfriend, Emmishae Kirby, 28.
The Houston Police Department investigated her murder.
Although it is not uncommon for a judge to revoke a deferred adjudication probation and sentence a recalcitrant defendant to prison for violating the terms of the probation, Gilbert’s case is unusual because he violated his probation by killing someone.
In 2013, Gilbert was charged with arson for setting his ex-wife’s home on fire while she was inside. The first-degree felony of arson carries a maximum punishment of life in prison.
Gilbert pleaded guilty in 2015 without an agreement, and Judge Frank Price sentenced him to eight years of deferred adjudication probation. If Gilbert had stayed out of trouble for eight years, he would not have had a conviction on his record.
Instead, he killed his ex-girlfriend in 2020, which led prosecutors to file a motion to adjudicate guilt for the arson charge. After hearing all of the evidence against Gilbert, including that he killed Emmishae Kirby and dumped her body in a field near Bear Creek Park, Judge Warren revoked his probation and sentenced him to life in prison. Because it is the maximum sentence, Gilbert must serve at least 30 years in prison before he is eligible for parole. If he is ever paroled, he will always be under the supervision of a parole officer.
Assistant District Attorney Mary McFaden, who is the chief of the Domestic Violence Division of the District Attorney’s Office, prosecuted the case with Lauren Bard, a chief in the Major Offenders Division.
“While he was on probation for the intimate-partner crime of arson, he committed the intimate-partner crime of homicide for a separate victim, and the judge could consider what happened to both victims,” McFaden said. “A life sentence is the only punishment that makes sense because this man hurts women and will continue to hurt women. This ensures there will never be another day when he is not supervised.”
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