FORT SMITH (KFSM) –A Sebastian County jury on Thursday night sentenced Gregory A. Kinsey, 21, to 70 years in prison for the deaths of Brandon Prince and Nathan Young.
Kinsey was convicted Wednesday night of first-degree murder and second-degree murder after hacking Prince and Young to death with a machete last year.
He was sentenced to 40 years for the first-degree murder charge and 30 years for the second-degree murder charge. The sentences will be served consecutively, officials said.
5NEWS spoke to the Brandon Prince's family and a family friend of Kinsey after sentencing.
"We wanted life, but yeah, we do feel justice," Misty Smith, Prince's sister-in-law, said.
"He should have got manslaughter because it was it was self defense that went too far," said Arthur Williams, a friend of Kinsey's family.
The sentencing portion of Kinsey's trial began Thursday morning. Prosecutors called five witnesses, including family members of Nathan Young and Brandon Prince, the two men Kinsey killed with a machete in June 2013. Defense attorneys called a dozen witnesses on Kinsey's behalf, including his father and three of his siblings.
The court proceedings ended Thursday (Nov. 13) afternoon, and the jury began deliberating the sentence just after 3 p.m.
Kinsey's mother was called to the stand twice, but she could not be located. A family friend told 5NEWS she did not show up because she was too distraught.
The defense also called law enforcement officers as witnesses. They testified Kinsey grew up in a stressful home, where police were often called to deal with disturbances stemming from his mother and father.
The jury's guilty verdict Wednesday night came after three days of court proceedings and hours of deliberation by the jury. Jurors, though, declined to find Kinsey guilty of the heavier charge of capital murder.
The prosecution and defense presented closing arguments Wednesday afternoon in Fort Smith and turned the case over to 12 jurors, comprised of seven women and five men. Wednesday’s portion of the trial began with the defense calling three witnesses to the stand, including two eyewitnesses from the night of the incident and a “fight or flight” expert.
An eyewitness who said he saw the prelude to the altercation said Young, Prince and Nathan Maynard first approached Kinsey in the alley and spread out in a “half moon”.
Dennis Miles, who was out looking for his loose dog, said two of the men then started moving toward Kinsey and Kinsey started backing up. Miles said he did not see the actual fight that then ensued and led to the deaths of Prince and Young.
Maynard was injured in the fight, but survived. He testified earlier this week that it was Kinsey who approached the three men and said, “I am Satan,” before the fight.
The trial began Monday in Sebastian County Circuit Court with opening arguments and witnesses for the prosecution. Prosecutors called their last witnesses Tuesday and rested before the defense called its witnesses and rested Wednesday morning.
Prosecutors said Kinsey meant to kill the two men, while the defense attorney said the suspect was only acting in self-defense against three drunk men who were being aggressive with him.
Tuesday’s proceedings ended shortly after the testimony of Cole Prince, the teenage son of one of the victims.
Prince, 16, recounted for jurors the night of the killing, saying he held his father in his arms as he died.
Cole Prince said his father Brandon Prince went to the store the night of June 26, 2013, returned to the house and went outside to smoke a cigarette. Cole Prince then heard his father scream and went outside to find Brandon Prince with machete wounds to his shoulder and hand.
Cole Prince testified he heard suspect Gregory Kinsey then say, “I shouldn’t have done this.”
Prince ran to get a towel for his father and held him in his arms until he died, the son testified.
A medical examiner on Monday testified blood tests showed Prince had a .22 blood-alcohol level at the time of his death, while Young’s blood-alcohol level was .10.
Authorities found Prince and Young dead from extensive cuts outside a duplex on North D Street near downtown Fort Smith. Investigators said Kinsey killed both of them with a machete he was carrying at the time of his arrest. During his investigation, Kinsey told authorities he was walking home from the Dollar Store when he was approached by the group of three men who became argumentative.
Kinsey told police he attacked Prince and Young after he told them to back off and felt they wouldn’t let him go. Kinsey has been behind bars, without bond, at the Sebastian County Detention Center since his arrest that night.
The trial comes after several resets in the case so that both sides could properly prepare. Authorities released surveillance video last year showing Kinsey at a nearby Dollar General buying paper towels, soda and tea bags the night of the incident. Moments later, police said he and two men fought in an alley near the store.
911 calls at the time indicate that the confrontation had turned violent.
911: “Where’s your emergency?”
Caller: “I need an ambulance at 1618 North D like right now, I don’t know what just happened someone is bleeding to death.”
The 911 call continues, as a frantic neighbor describes the scene and comforts screaming children in the background.
Police found the bloody Dollar General bags inside Kinsey’s home, according to court documents. They also seized several knives from his home.
According to the medical examiner, Young’s cause of death was “multiple chop wounds,” while Prince sustained “injury to axillary artery due to chop wound of left arm.”
Video was also released of Kinsey interviewing with police after his arrest. In the video Kinsey offered his account of what happened, telling officers, “He (Nathan) asked me why I was creeping around in the shadows like that. I became angry. I tossed my bags and yelled and told him, ‘Please, I don’t want to go to prison today.’”
Kinsey told police he had a clear mind at the time of the attack and once it began he described feeling like he was watching a movie.
“I remember he tried to flee, but I don’t think I registered it at the time. I pursued him. I kept trying… I wasn’t trying to kill him. I was trying to incapacitate him. It’s just once I started swinging, I just kept swinging,” said Kinsey to police.
Judge Stephen Tabor issued what attorneys called a “partial gag order” in the case. The order blocked some photos from being released, including two photos of Young and Prince taken at the crime scene as well as photos from inside Kinsey’s home.
Two videos from Kinsey’s cell phone were also blocked from being released.
Before the gag order was issued, though, photographs were released showing the inside of Kinsey’s apartment, where walls were smeared with a red substance, showing finger-marks and handprints. (See those images accompanying this story)