Murderer Of T.I.'s Friend Philant Johnson Gets 66 Years To Life For Shootout

Judge calls Hosea Thomas 'the poster boy for gun violence in Cincinnati.'

Less than a month after [artist id="1225081"]T.I.[/artist] took the witness stand in a Cincinnati courtroom to testify about the night in 2006 when his best friend and assistant, [article id="1599969"]Philant Johnson, was killed[/article], Hosea Thomas was sentenced to 66 years in prison for pulling the trigger.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Ralph "Ted" Winkler handed down a sentence of 66 years to life on Tuesday morning (December 23). Thomas will not be eligible for release until 2074, when he will be 100 years old.

"Hosea Thomas really is not a tough guy," assistant prosecutor Seth Tieger told the judge during the sentencing hearing. "The thing that makes him dangerous is he's got a very quick temper, a horrible anger problem ... and access to guns."

The paper reported that it was the second time Thomas has been sent to prison for shooting a gun in public. The first time occurred in 1992, when he got into a bar fight, left to get a gun and returned to the scene and shot wildly into a crowd, wounding a pregnant woman who ended up giving birth three months prematurely due to her injuries. The woman later testified against Thomas, who spent eight years in prison for the incident.

This time, Thomas' fate was sealed by the damaging testimony of his own brother, Padron Thomas, who was behind the wheel when [article id="1530019"]Hosea fired at T.I.'s van[/article] after an altercation at a Cincinnati nightclub on May 3, 2006.

During his testimony, T.I. described the chaotic scene inside the club that night and his difficulty in telling Johnson's then 5-year-old daughter that her father had passed, explaining that he apologized to Johnson's mother, "because I felt that all those rounds were fired for me."

During the trial, prosecutors claimed that Thomas was hit in the head with a liquor bottle during a fight at the club as he tried to get into the VIP area reserved for the rapper and his crew. Thomas later jumped into the passenger seat of his brother's car and they began chasing T.I.'s vans, leaning out of the window to fire shots at the vehicles while an unidentified person in one of the vans returned fire. The gun battle continued on the city streets and ended with Johnson being shot in the head and three others in the vans sustaining non-life-threatening wounds.

The Enquirer reported that Thomas -- who was convicted of murder, five counts of felonious assault and being a felon with a gun -- offered brief condolences to Johnson's family and asked Winkler for mercy in his sentencing, but the judge said he would show him only as much mercy as Thomas showed his victims.

"(Thomas) gave Philant Johnson a death sentence, and his family -- he gave them a death sentence as well," the judge said, adding that he hoped Thomas never gets out of prison. "All of his crimes have been cowardly and senseless. ... You could say he's the poster boy for gun violence in Cincinnati."

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