Man headed to prison for East Texas softball field murder

Vontrequel Nickleberry, 33
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 8:44 AM CDT
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LINDEN, Texas (KLTV) - A man was found guilty and sentenced on September 1 of a murder that took place just over a year ago.

Vontrequel Nickleberry, 33, of Marietta, Texas, was found guilty by a Cass County jury of the murder of DaChauncey Jones in September 2021. He was sentenced to 50 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, as well as assessed a $10,000 fine.

According to evidence presented by family members, deputies from the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, forensic scientists, and multiple eyewitnesses, the district attorney says, Nickleberry was at the Marietta Community Center on September 22, 2021 practicing softball.

During softball warmups, Jones drove up to the community center. He was very upset because his grandmother had died the day before. He told his coach about it, and cried. He walked out toward Nickleberry, and they ended up arguing. There was a brief altercation, but the other team members broke it up, witnesses testified.

However, the DA said, Nickleberry reached into his waistband and pulled out a 9mm handgun. He pointed it at Jones. Jones raised both his hands and backed away from Nickleberry, but Nickleberry fired two fatal shots into Jones’ chest, and Jones fell to the ground.

Then, witnesses said, While Jones was lying on the ground, Nickleberry then walked up to Jones’ body and stood over him, and fired a shot at his face. The bullet grazed Jones’ cheek. Nickleberry then ran away from the scene.

Investigator Sabrina Sartor testified that the next day Nickleberry showed up at the Cass County Sheriff’s Office to turn himself in and give a statement.  In that statement, Nickleberry claimed he was in fear for his life and was acting in self-defense. He then took law enforcement to the woods, where he had disposed of the murder weapon and an extra magazine.

During his trial, Nickleberry took the stand in his own defense, saying he “would do it again.” He continued to say that he was in fear for his life, although he said he never saw a gun in Jones’ hand. He said over the past year Jones had twice fired a shot in his direction. The State, however, presented witnesses who contradicted Nickleberry’s claims, along with evidence that neither incident resulted in criminal charges.

The jury rejected Nickleberry’s self-defense claims.

At punishment, the State presented evidence of other crimes and extraneous bad acts that Nickleberry had committed in Dallas County, Tarrant County, Gregg County, Panola County and Morris County.

“As always, we are extremely grateful to the Cass County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Laboratory for their assistance in this investigation.  We would also like to thank the eyewitnesses who came forward and were willing to testify about what they observed on September 22, 2021.  Without their testimony, this conviction would not have been possible.” said Cass County Criminal District Attorney Courtney Shelton. “DaChauncey Jones’ family has been trying to heal for nearly a year, and I believe the justice Nickleberry received will be a large step in that healing process.  While this sentence will not bring Jones back, it does affirm to Cass County citizens that these types of senseless murders are not acceptable and will be prosecuted.”

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