A Tulsa man was sentenced Wednesday to serve 200 months — more than 16 years — in federal prison after he pleaded guilty earlier to fatally shooting a man in 2019.
Jerod DeWayne Goolsby, 26, admitted in June to shooting Kendale Wright, 23, in the neck and right buttock at an apartment complex in the 6500 block of East 21st Place on July 2, 2019, after a day of drinking led to fighting.
A plea agreement with prosecutors, which dropped a first-degree murder charge in lieu of a second-degree murder charge, called for a judge to sentence Goolsby to a prison term between 188 and 262 months. Goolsby had faced life in prison.
An attorney for Goolsby urged U.S. District Judge Claire V. Eagan to sentence his client at the low end of the range.
Goolsby has “severe mental illness,” has no criminal history, has a history of lawful and productive employment and has a history of caring for other family members, especially the elderly, his attorney argued.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tulsa urged that Goolsby be sentenced at the top end of the sentencing range for what was described as a “tragic killing.”
“Mr. Wright is gone and nothing can bring him back,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Johnston wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “He is lost to his family forever. The requested sentence, while failing to ease their loss, does at least recognize it.”
In addition to the 16-year, eight-month prison term, Goolsby also must serve five years of post-custody supervision.
Goolsby described portions of the events leading up to the fatal shooting in his written plea.
“We had spent time together that day drinking, and then we had a dispute,” he wrote in his plea agreement. “I beat him up, but the dispute continued. I went to my apartment, retrieved my pistol, returned (to) his location, and then shot him twice.”
Goolsby originally was charged with first-degree murder in state court, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in McGirt v. Oklahoma in July 2020 that American Indians involved in crimes within the Muscogee Nation could be tried only in federal or tribal courts.
Goolsby is a member of the Muscogee Nation, and the crime occurred within the tribe’s 1860s-era reservation boundaries.
A federal grand jury named Goolsby in a first-degree murder indictment in August after he challenged his state prosecution on McGirt-related jurisdictional grounds.
Goolsby has been in jail since July 2, 2019, according to online jail booking records.