Accused shooter pleads guilty

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Sentenced to 30 years with eligibility of parole

By Gina Clear

As his court martial began Thursday in a small Fort Knox courtroom filled with spectators, U.S. Army Sgt. Marquinta Jacobs entered a guilty plea to a charge of premeditated murder in the shooting death of Army civilian employee Lloyd R. Gibert, 51, and to a charge of aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon for discharging a firearm near an officer who witnessed the April 3, 2013 shooting.

Jacobs was sentenced to up to 30 years in prison with parole eligibility after 10 years, a dishonorable discharge, and was demoted in rank to E-1.

Army corrections will determine where Jacobs will serve out his sentence.

Jacobs elected to be tried by a judge, there was no jury.

After Jacobs entered his plea, judge, Col. Steven E. Walburn, heard “stipulations of fact” to determine guilt for each charge.

To address the charge of premeditated murder, Jacobs was allowed to read a prepared statement describing the events leading up to the shooting.

Jacobs said on his last deployment to Afghanistan, he learned his wife, Christine, was having an affair with Gibert.

When he returned home on New Years Eve in 2011, he and his wife reconciled, but despite efforts to rebuild the marriage, the affair continued.

On the night of April 2, he accessed his wife’s email account to discover messages from Gibert and remembers seeing the word “love” in them. When he confronted his wife, she was “evasive,” he said.

“I felt the relationship was a lie,” he said. He punched a hole in the wall during the argument, he said.  

After the argument, Jacobs  left the house with his .45-caliber handgun and drove around “aimlessly” all night and never returned home. He said he had a conceal and carry permit and always took a gun with him when he was in civilian clothes.

He texted his wife the next day, but “she continued to be evasive,” he said.

Before she was to get off work, Jacobs drove to Human Resources Command, where his wife and Gibert worked, to speak to his wife.

Jacobs didn’t find his wife and later learned she already had left the building. He waited in the parking lot.

While waiting, he saw Gibert walking through the lot and Jacobs drove his truck up to him.

“I saw Gibert and became angry,” he said.

He confronted Gibert then shot him, although he doesn’t remember pulling the trigger.

“I do remember Mr. Gibert falling and stumbling,” Jacobs said.

He fired approximately eight times, and later learned Gibert had died.

“I had a loaded, concealed, deadly weapon,” Jacobs said. “I was lying in wait for Mr. Gibert and I fled the scene after the shooting.”

The judge asked Jacobs a series of questions including whether he acted out of passion or premeditation, if he could have avoided shooting Gibert, if he felt the shooting was in self-defense and if he shot with intent to kill.

“I saw Mr. Gibert as an enemy to my family and decided to eliminate the threat,” Jacobs said. “Mr. Gibert and Capt. Hawkins [the witness to the shooting] did nothing for me to be afraid. I did not see Mr. Gibert and my wife in a compromising position.”

The judge asked Jacobs if he had a lack of mental responsibility and how Jacobs knew what he was doing was wrong.

Jacobs said although he is diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and had knee surgery days before the incident, he was not lacking mental responsibility and knew what he was doing.

“I knew I was doing great bodily harm to the victim,” he said. “At any point I could have turned around and left the scene.”

Jacobs then addressed the charge of aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon.

“Capt. (Jonathan) Hawkins was standing next to Mr. Gibert in close proximity,” he said. “He was in a zone of danger. It is safe to assume one of the rounds could have easily hit Capt. Hawkins.”

The judge accepted Jacobs plea and then entered the sentencing phase of the trial.

The charges carried a possibility of life imprisonment with no eligibility of parole and a dishonorable discharge.

 Keith Gibert, a 22-year Army veteran, said his older brother Lloyd came from a line of Army servicemen and described him as a charismatic, friendly, gentle and helpful man who loved cooking, music, sports and helping others.

“He never bragged about helping people,” he said. “He was not selective when it came to helping people.”

Although only separated by 15 months, Keith said Lloyd was a strong male role model for him and he remembers sharing many childhood experiences with him.

“We did everything together,” he said. “I am who I am because of Lloyd.”

Because Jacobs acted as judge, jury and executioner for his brother, Keith said, his brother never finished planning a family reunion set for July and he regrets not getting to tell him goodbye.

“I didn’t have that opportunity with my brother,” he said. “I wish I could have told him, ‘I love you.’ The wounds are deep and will take time to heal. No one deserves to die the way my brother died.”

The eldest of the three brothers, Jeffrey Gibert, said Lloyd was the epitome of a leader and well respected at HRC noting many of the command attended the funeral.

Jeffrey, a 26-year Army veteran, said now that Lloyd has died he has a void in his life “that cannot be filled.”

“Professionally, I have no one to call to get advice; no more observing how he was a father for his children,” he said.

Lloyd acted as the patriarch of the family after the boys’ father left, Jeffrey said, and their mother began calling him “Papa Lloyd.”

Hawkins, who was present at the shooting, remembered Lloyd as the fun guy at the office with a positive attitude.

Hawkins added Lloyd was a subject matter expert who took on extra duties and helped Hawkins “shine in front of the boss.”

Hawkins testified he was in fear for his life during the shooting.

“I definitely felt danger, scared for my life,” he said. “I wanted to get away from the situation that was happening.”

Tarquennia Gibert, one of Lloyd’s six daughters testified on behalf of her sisters.

Tarquennia said her two children now will grow up without a grandfather, the youngest never having met him. She must now answer questions for her 5-year-old daughter who is not old enough to grasp the meaning of what happened to Pop Pop.

She admitted her father was “not perfect,” but said he was “making amends with his shortcomings.”

“It’s not fair that criminals get to see their children grow up,” she said.

Defense witness Andre Crouch, pastor of Christ Memorial Church in San Fernando, Calif., where Jacobs attended, said Jacobs was even-tempered and soft spoken.

“I never heard him raise his voice,” Crouch said. “When I saw it on the news I couldn’t believe it. It blew me away. It was so unlike him.”

Tina Wright, Jacobs’ aunt, agreed Jacobs’ actions were out of character.

“He’s only had a speeding ticket,” she said.

She said he was very committed to military life, was disciplined and devoted to his faith, but most of all Jacobs was remorseful for his actions.

“Marc called me that day,” she said. “He was very remorseful. He said, ‘I want to turn myself in.’”

Jacob’s cousin, Larry Ford, testified that despite Jacobs’ growing up around gangs and drugs, he always rejected that lifestyle.

“He wasn’t in a gang,” he said. “It wasn’t in his nature.”

Ford, too, said Jacobs’ actions just didn’t fit what he knew were his cousin’s values – God, family and service of country.

In unsworn testimony, Jacobs again recounted his actions of April 3 and apologized.

“I am sincerely sorry for the pain I caused everyone,” he said. “Committing this crime was the worst thing I’ve ever done. “

Through tears Jacobs asked for forgiveness from Gibert’s family.

“If I could take back what I’ve done to the Gibert family, I would. I pray that they find it in their hearts to forgive me. I will continue to pray for the Gibert family that they can find peace.”

He asked the judge to consider parole so he may one day have a chance to know his 4-year-old daughter.

“My young daughter is too young to understand the grave mistake I made,” he said as many in the gallery sobbed.

Jacobs’ wife was present in the courtroom but did not testify and showed no emotion during her husband’s testimony.

In closing arguments, trial council Capt. Matthew Talandoni asked the judge to consider the severity of Jacobs’ crime and its effects on Gibert’s family.

“There is no more serious crime that what the court has found Sgt. Jacobs guilty of,” Talandoni said.

He added although Gibert had an affair with Jacobs’ wife, testimony showed “he was so much more.”

Defense council Capt. John P. Plymire said Jacobs’ was willing to accept the consequences of his actions, but added Gibert’s actions had an effect on those involved.

“This was a tragedy for everyone involved,” he said. “It affected everyone in this room because (Gibert) was having an emotional and physical affair with Sgt. Jacobs’ wife.”

Although Plymire said the knowledge of the affair does not excuse Jacobs’ actions, he asked for the court to grant parole and a bad conduct discharge – instead of a dishonorable one – that Jacobs should be given the opportunity not to let his actions define his life.

“Sgt. Jacobs will forever be defined as a murderer due to his actions,” Plymire said. “What we are asking is that he have the opportunity for this not to define him.”

Walburn ruled Jacobs is to serve life with the eligibility of parole and a dishonorable discharge, reducing his rank to E-1. The convening authority, Maj. Gen. Jeff Smith — Commanding General of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox –  sentenced Jacobs to no more than 30 years in prison with parole eligibility after 10 years, as well as a dishonorable discharge, lowering his rank to E-1. He already has served 280 days of his sentence.

Jacobs, who was a unit supply specialist in the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division and has been at Fort Knox since 2009, enlisted in the Army in 2004 following his service in the U.S. Navy.

Gibert was a U.S. Army veteran and worked nine years with Human Resources Command. He was a native of Columbus, Ga., according to his Facebook page.

Gina Clear can be reached at 270-505-1746 or gclear@thenewsenterprise.com.