SAN DIEGO — On Thursday, a judge sentenced a man convicted of killing his older brother to 25 years to life in prison.
The murder happened in August 2021 in City Heights.
Inside a downtown San Diego courtroom, two parents faced a heartbreaking reality, having to split their love for their two sons during a sentencing for one convicted of killing the other.
“I firmly believe that he was wrongly convicted. I implore you to consider the circumstances. I can’t,” the mother of Adam and Trenton Thomas said before breaking down in tears.
The father finished reading the mother’s statement in court.
“To say we love our children immensely is not enough. The thought of losing another child to life in prison for an unintentional act is unfathomable,” Adam and Trenton’s dad said.
A judge sentenced Adam Thomas to 25 years to life for killing his older brother, 22-year-old Trenton Thomas, but, not before Adam’s lawyer tried to argue a motion to drop the charge to second-degree murder. The defense lawyer cited a lack of evidence of pre-meditation or malice. The judge denied the motion, saying, “the court confirms that the jury had more than enough amble evidence to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
In August 2021, the prosecutor argues then 20-year-old Adam bought a crossbow, practiced firing it, got the crossbow ready to fire and even packed up metal-bladed arrowheads before driving from Sacramento to visit Trenton at a sober living house in San Diego.
When Adam arrived in San Diego, the prosecutor said Adam went to dinner with his brother, and then lured him to an alley behind the Central Avenue Mini Park in City Heights. The prosecutors said Adam blindfolded Trenton and loaded the crossbow.
“And he walked up to his brother and he shot him through the head. That is all deliberate, willful, premeditated conduct. The arrow went nearly ear to ear through the victim’s head,” said Christina Eastman, San Diego County Deputy District Attorney.
Eastman said Trenton ran into the park, eventually pulling out the arrow, but bled to death.
Eastman said Adam sped away, did not call for help, did not call 911 and did not go after his brother. Instead, Eastman said Adam went back to his Airbnb.
The next day, Eastman said evidence showed Adam stopped in Hollywood for four hours, even got a tattoo, before driving back to Sacramento.
“The defendant had various stories about what happened — one version to the police, another version here in court,” Eastman said.
Adam told the judge he takes full responsibility.
“I was stupid with the way I handled it and I left my brother. And I realized the pain I have caused all of my family and all of my loved ones, and anybody who’s ever loved Trenton. I realized I have ruined my family’s lives,” Adam said.
The Thomas family is standing behind Adam. The parents told the judge they acknowledge Adam is responsible but say it was a “tragic, unfortunate accident.”
“A reckless, careless, immature act that took Trenton’s life, a beloved brother to Adam,” the dad said.
Prosecutors said there was some conflict between the brothers leading up to the murder. The family argues Adam and Trenton shared a deep bond.
Eastman described, “Specifically, there were some writings that were discovered that belonged to Mr. Thomas where he was repeatedly exhibiting statements that indicated animosity towards some of his family members. And then his manager at work and roommates testified that in the months leading up to this murder, that he did have a character for violence.”
“I can assure you that life in prison will not be something Trenton would want for his brother that he loves so much,” the dad said. “There is no justice in the continued suffering.”
Adam becomes eligible for release after serving 25 years. It will be up to the parole board to decide when he could get released.