October 1, 2003

Man sentenced to 25 years in dice-game murder

Kevin Blocker The Spokesman-Review
 

A Spokane judge sentenced a man Tuesday to 25 years in prison for the shooting death of a man during a dice game last year.

Rodney L. Colbert pleaded guilty on Aug. 25 to second-degree murder for killing Lavelle D. Jordan. Colbert also pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree robbery during the Dec. 17 attack.

Prosecutors originally charged Colbert with a count each of first-degree murder, first-degree robbery, seconddegree assault and five counts of first-degree attempted robbery, but they reduced the charges in exchange for a plea, court records show.

Superior Court Judge Richard Schroeder’s sentencing capped an emotional hearing in which eight of Jordan’s family members and friends spoke about his death at age 25.

“He was a good kid; he wanted peace between people,” said Jordan’s mother, Lawanda Sparks. Greg Jordan, Lavelle’s father, called him a “compassionate child.”

“He’s very much missed, very much loved,” Greg Jordan said.

In court papers, witnesses identified Colbert as the shooter. Authorities say a woman named Nicole D. Hilliard drove Colbert to 6127 N. Standard, where several people were playing dice for money.

Those at the residence knew Hilliard and let her into the party, along with Colbert, officials said.

Witnesses said Colbert and Hilliard each lost several hundred dollars, then left the party to get more money. Colbert then lost that money and hit another player on the head with a gun, the affidavit said.

Witnesses said they heard Colbert yell, “Don’t nobody move!” several times. He then fired several rounds at Jordan, who was running out the front door, the affidavit said. Meanwhile, Hilliard scooped about $150 off the floor, she admitted to authorities.

Hilliard then drove away with Colbert in the back seat, a witness said.

Hilliard faces the same charges as Colbert. Deputy prosecutor Eugene Cruz said the case against her is pending. She is being held in the Spokane County Jail on $750,000 bond.

Jordan, a father of four, died of a single gunshot wound. His children range in age from one month to 8 years. Colbert has three children, ages 4, 2 and 1.

Hilliard has eight convictions, police said. Superior Court records show the convictions are for delivery of a controlled substance, assault and possession of stolen property.

Court records say Colbert has 10 convictions as an adult, including assault with a deadly weapon, probation violations and riot with a deadly weapon.

Reading from a prepared statement, Colbert apologized to Jordan’s family, as well as his own, for the murder.

Jordan’s death became the city’s 23rd homicide in 2002, police said, tying it with 1995 as the worst year ever.


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