jaquan cohen blows kiss

Jaquan Cohen blows a kiss to his family Wednesday after being sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of Thomas Pomare in 2017.

FALL RIVER — Almost four years to the day that Thomas “JR” Pomare was fatally shot in a botched marijuana robbery, his killer was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Jaquan Cohen, 30, of Boston, blew a kiss to his family in Fall River Superior Court before he was led out of the courtroom following an emotional sentencing hearing.

On Nov. 19, a jury found Cohen guilty of first-degree murder and two other charges stemming from the fatal shooting of Pomare, 34, at an Attleboro home on Dec. 4, 2017.

The life sentence for the murder charge is mandatory and all murder convictions are automatically reviewed by the state Supreme Judicial Court.

Judge Daniel O’Shea gave Cohen concurrent sentences of up to 20 years for armed home invasion and armed assault with intent to rob.

“What a senseless murder,” Pomare’s mother, Niva Scott, said during her victim-impact statement to the court.

Scott said she lost two other sons to crimes of gun violence, and all within six months.

She said her faith in God sustained her.

A mother of five, Scott said she wanted to raise her children in Attleboro so they could live in a diverse community and go to good schools.

Pomare, a football standout at Attleboro High School, moved to California and was visiting close friends on South Avenue when he was killed.

Growing up, Scott told the court Pomare helped her with her other children. She nicknamed him JR after the character on the 1980s hit TV show “Dallas.”

She struggled to keep her emotions in check as she recalled how her son bought her a new red Toyota to replace her old car, which had a hole in the floor.

“I will never see my son again,” Scott said.

Dawna Gyukeri Burrus, who with her son James Burrus when Cohen and another armed man forced their way inside the home, said Pomare was like her second son.

“He always took the time to tell me he loved me,” Gyukeri Burrus said, adding that they always talked about sports, politics and the favorite meals she cooked for him.

Gyukeri Burrus, who testified she ran from the home for her life, said she now always locks her doors and has visitors call her before coming over.

“My home was my sanctuary and the defendant took that away from me,” Gyukeri Burrus told the judge.

Pomare’s fiancee, Sofia Figueroa, a nurse, said she is now a single mother of two daughters and a son, who was born after Pomare was killed.

“They know they have a guardian angel protecting them,” Figueroa said.

She said she will one day have to explain to her children what happen to their father, who she described as kind, loving and handsome.

At one point while Pomare’s father, Malachi Mims, was speaking, Cohen’s family was removed from the courtroom as tensions between the two families escalated.

They were allowed to return a short time later and sat on the other side of the courtroom.

“This is a tragedy for both families, there’s no way around it. Both families are suffering,” Mims said.

Looking right at Cohen, Pomare’s sister, Vallina Mims, said, “You do the crime you do the time, my boy.”

Cohen’s lawyer, Mark Wester, has argued there was little evidence to corroborate the testimony of the prosecution’s star witness, Archie Charles, that his client was the shooter.

Charles, the getaway driver, testified Cohen admitted to the shooting when he returned from the house and got inside Charles’ Jeep.

Wester argued that the first-degree murder charge should be reduced to second-degree murder, but the request was denied.

He said he did not believe a sentence of life without parole for Cohen, who has no prior record of convictions, was justice in light of the evidence in the case.

Wester argued James Burrus picked a photo of Job Williams, the other man who forced his way into the house, and identified him as the shooter.

In his motion, he quoted from Burrus’ victim-impact statement when Williams was sentenced earlier this year: “I know you pulled that trigger, Job Williams, you and I both know that.”

Williams pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to serve 20 to 25 years.

In response, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Lopes said the jury heard about Burrus’ identification of Williams but was free to accept or reject testimony and evidence in the case.

Lopes said there was other corroborating evidence, such as a bullet found in Cohen’s apartment that matched the shell casing found at the scene of the murder.

Lopes and the judge also cited a court ruling that prohibits the reduction of first-degree murder in a case where the jury finds a defendant guilty of a murder in the commission of a felony, as in Pomare’s slaying.

Before sentencing Cohen, O’Shea said both families have endured a “nightmare from which they will never recover.”

David Linton may be reached at 508-236-0338.