Local News

Tuesday, Jul 17 2012 12:58 PM

Killer in Taco Bell shooting sentenced to 40 years to life

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    During Tuesday's sentencing for Lyndon McKoy, Dorothy Ann Daniels wears a large pin with a photo of her son Nathaniel Jones III who was shot and killed.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Prosecutor in the Lyndon McKoy trial, David Zulfa hugs Dorothy Ann Daniels, after Lyndon McKoy's sentencing Tuesday in Bakersfield for the second-degree murder of Daniels' son, Nathaniel Jones III.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Lyndon McKoy reacts to his sentencing in Kern County Superior Court Tuesday morning. Attorney Christina Matias is to his right.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Lyndon McKoy looks around the courtroom during Tuesday's sentencing. His attorneys Pam Singh, left, and Christina Matias, right, sit next to McKoy.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

In what prosecutors called one of the most senseless crimes to occur locally, a Bakersfield man was sentenced to 40 years to life Tuesday for gunning down a man who angered the defendant by taking too long checking his order at a Taco Bell drive-thru.

Given the length of the sentence, it’s possible Lyndon Rushell McKoy will spend the rest of his days eating prison meals. The 23-year-old, who at times closed his eyes and appeared to be nodding off, stared at the ceiling as Judge Gary T. Friedman pronounced sentence.

Citing the “utter senselessness of this tragic, very tragic, crime,” Friedman handed down the statutorily required 15-years-to-life for McKoy’s second-degree murder conviction. Another 25 years was tacked on because the jury found the special circumstance of discharging a firearm and causing death to be true.

The sentence brought a measure of peace to Dorothy Ann Daniels, mother of victim Nathaniel Jones III. She wore a pin with her son’s picture on it as she sat in the courtroom.

“It feels like something has been lifted off our shoulders,” she said afterward.

Daniels had hoped the jury would return a guilty verdict for first-degree murder, but said she can live with the second-degree murder conviction. She’s asking for prayers for Nathaniel Bruce Jones, her grandson and the victim’s son, who witnessed his father’s murder.

McKoy was represented by Pam Singh and Christina Matias of the Public Defender’s office. Two attorneys were assigned because prosecutors originally filed the killing as a death penalty case.

Singh said she appreciated the work of the jury in that they acquitted McKoy of three accounts of attempted murder and didn’t find the special circumstance that the killing was motivated by race to be true. Jones was black, and McKoy is of Belizean descent.

She also was satisfied the jury didn’t find McKoy guilty of first-degree murder, but Singh said she always believed the shooting was a manslaughter case. Jones, and others with him, got out of Jones’ vehicle and confronted McKoy at the drive-thru, she said.

Singh said she’ll be filing an appeal immediately.

Prosecutor David Zulfa said the sentence was appropriate given the verdict. He said he believes McKoy is remorseful in some respects, and that his actions that day were out of character.

Still, there’s no getting around the irrational nature of what sparked the shooting.

“That’s what makes this crime one of the most senseless killings this town will ever see,” Zulfa said.

Zulfa said Jones was in the drive-thru at the Taco Bell on White Lane near South H Street the evening of Dec. 29, 2010. McKoy was in the vehicle behind Jones.

Jones received his order and began checking it to make sure it was correct, Zulfa said. The wait incensed McKoy and he began yelling at Jones.

The two exchanged words and McKoy got out of his car and retrieved a gun from his trunk, according to Zulfa. He then drove after Jones and fired repeatedly into the vehicle.

Jones, 33, was taken to Kern Medical Center and died from his injuries. Bakersfield police reported McKoy was arrested the following day in the 4300 block of Vern Street.

Daniels hugged Zulfa following sentencing, and she and other family seemed at ease. Daniels said they’ve regularly attended court hearings and are ready to move on.

“(Jones) is with me every day in my thoughts, and I hope I can put him to rest,” she said.

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