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Airman pleads guilty to 2011 murder of civilian

Jan. 20, 2013 - 11:25AM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 20, 2013 - 11:25AM  |  
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A Robins Air Force Base, Ga., airman will spend at least the next 40 years of his life in prison for shooting and killing a man more than a year ago outside a Warner Robins night club.

Arion Steven Holsey, of the 689th Combat Communications Wing, pleaded guilty to murder with intent to kill and obstruction of justice at a court-martial held in early January. He was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Holsey, who was an E-4 at the time of the shooting, also was made to forfeit all pay and allowances, busted back down to an airman basic and given a dishonorable discharge, according to a press release from Robins.

Holsey, who was 23 at the time of his arrest, made a pretrial agreement that requires him to serve 40 years before he will be eligible for parole, according to the Macon Police Department.

Macon authorities said Holsey shot and killed 20-year-old Anthony Harris Jr., a civilian, outside a local night club called Whiskey River on July 29, 2011.

Premeditated

The Robins Air Force Base airman was hanging out with a friend at the Macon, Ga., night club, and he'd just seen the mother of his child dancing with another man.

The sight made Holsey so mad, that he and the other man, Anthony Harris, came to blows inside the club. Though he wasn't made to leave the premises, club security had Holsey and his friend stand outside to put some distance between the men and so that Holsey would cool off. But Holsey was still upset.

He had a shotgun in his car and, in front of the security guard keeping an eye on him and his friend, Holsey said that he was "willing to use it if necessary."

Holsey and his friend eventually went back in the club, but at some time in the early morning hours of July 29, 2011, the pair came out of the club and went to Holsey's Toyota Camry, which was in the club's parking lot. Harris was also in the lot with people who knew him.

Decisions of consequence

Before taking the driver's seat, Holsey popped the trunk of his Camry, took out the shotgun and placed it in the space between the driver's seat and the front passenger's seat.

Though Holsey and his friend would later testify at an Article 32 hearing that they both saw a man in the parking lot holding a gun, they couldn't say definitively that it was Harris, or any of the people standing in the lot with Harris. They also didn't say that the unidentified man pointed the gun at them or even brandished it.

Instead of leaving the parking lot, Holsey deliberately drove his car out of the club's parking lot, passing closely by Harris, according to the investigating officer's report prepared by Col. Frank M. Wood. Holsey slowed the car so that the back passenger-side window was only a few feet from Harris; he opened the rear passenger window, pointed the gun at Harris and fired a shot that hit Harris in the stomach. Harris died soon after.

He fled the scene and days later attempted to have his Toyota Camry repainted to keep any potential witnesses from recognizing it. But it didn't work. The friend who'd been with him implicated Holsey as the shooter.

Delayed justice

Though the crime was committed off base, the military requested and was granted jurisdiction over the case by Bibb County, Ga., authorities, but Holsey's road to prison was hardly a speedy one.

Holsey was arrested in August 2011. Three months later, charges alleging he had planned Harris' murder and impeded the investigation were preferred, according to an Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals order.

Holsey's defense attorney requested several delays, one of which involved requesting a forensic psychologist, a mitigation specialist, a defense criminal investigator and a defense attorney with experience in capital cases before an Article 32 hearing was held.

The request for additional expertise in the case was denied in every instance in late March, and the hearing was scheduled for April 2012.

Holsey was pleaded guilty and was sentenced this month.

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