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Shavonte Thompson gets life in prison for murder of 18-year-old victim in La Crosse alley

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Life in prison without parole is the sentence for Shavonte Thompson, convicted last fall of the 2019 shooting death of Javier Ayers in north La Crosse.

Thompson was found guilty at a November jury trial of riding into an alley near Copeland Park, shooting Ayers three times, and riding away seconds later. The shooting was captured on security video. Ayers was 18. Thompson turned 30 on February 16th.

Javier Ayers, in the center wearing a Calvin Klein shirt, is pictured with his family

At his sentencing hearing before Judge Gloria Doyle, Thompson maintained his innocence, saying he was falsely accused and plans to appeal his conviction. Other members of Thompson’s family who were at the scene of the crime that night identified him as the shooter.

Shavonte Thompson, pictured in bottom row, is sentenced during Zoom hearing on February 18th, 2022

The prosecution had argued that one of Thompson’s female relatives was attacked the night before the shooting and received a broken jaw, and that Ayers’s friends may have been involved. District attorney Tim Gruenke says it’s not entirely clear whether the shooting was an act of revenge for that attack, or whether it was a cold-blooded murder.

Security footage screenshot shown during the Nov. 2021 Shavonte Thompson trial in La Crosse County Court of the shooting of Javier Ayers on Nov. 2, 2019.

Defense attorney Patrick Flanagan says the wrong person was being sentenced, and argued for a 35-year prison term, saying Thompson should have a chance to rehabilitate himself.

Larry Hall, Javier’s grandfather, called Thompson an “animal” who “belongs behind bars.” Hall described his grandson as a “really good kid” who aspired to play basketball in the NBA.

Judge Doyle said this was not Thompson’s first gun offense, and that the killing of Ayers “left many victims.”

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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