Thomas gets life plus 25 for Marshalltown murder


A Marshalltown man who was convicted of first-degree murder in August received a mandatory life sentence plus 25 years for an additional count of attempted murder during a Wednesday hearing.

Robert J. Thomas, 37, was found guilty of shooting and killing 22-year-old Johnqwez Lewis and seriously injuring 27-year-old Devonte Brooks in an apparent drive-by outside of a north side residence on March 25, 2020. During the eventual trial, the state argued that Thomas had committed the murder as retribution after his brother, Blake Thomas, was shot and killed 10 days before on March 15, 2020. Mustafa Muhammad, the man accused of killing Blake Thomas, is currently on trial facing a first-degree murder charge.

According to court documents, three individuals read victim impact statements during the sentencing hearing on Wednesday.

Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper said the case was one of the more complex investigations he has been involved with during his tenure. He cited the fact that almost a year had passed from the day that the crime was committed before Thomas was formally charged. He thanked the Iowa Attorney General’s office and the state Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI) for their continued cooperation and partnership.

“It was a whodunit crime from the very beginning. The night the crime occurred, we didn’t have any clear suspects,” Tupper said. “It took a lot of quality detective work, and technology played a huge role.”

Tupper commended his detectives for gathering clues through cell phone data and social media posts and noted that due to his long list of past arrests and convictions, Thomas was “very familiar” to the MPD.

“Violent crime in Marshalltown is still relatively rare. We don’t see a lot of it, but when it does occur, our law enforcement professionals do a fantastic job of solving these crimes,” Tupper said.

Assistant Iowa Attorney General Nicole Leonard was the lead prosecutor for the state on the case. During a brief phone interview, Lynn Hicks, the Iowa Attorney General’s Chief of Staff, told the Times-Republican that the office is “grateful” for the guilty verdict and life sentence handed down against Thomas.


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