Curtis Jenkins pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in connection to the 2017 fatal shooting of John Roland, a 49-year-old barber in suburban West Palm Beach. Jenkins was previously charged with first-degree murder.

WEST PALM BEACH – A man charged in the 2017 fatal shooting of a 49-year-old barber in suburban West Palm Beach pleaded guilty to lesser charges Tuesday.

Curtis Jenkins, 29, told Circuit Judge Jeffrey Gillen that he pleaded guilty, in his best interest, to one count of aggravated battery with a weapon. Jenkins, who was represented by defense attorney Scott Skier, previously was charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of John Roland.

Jenkins was sentenced to four years in the custody of the Florida Department of Corrections, but has credit for the 731 days he’s already served at the Palm Beach County Jail.

Assistant State Attorney Chrichet Mixon said in court Tuesday there was a fight inside the residence on 4600 block of Myla Lane, west of North Military Trail and south of Okeechobee Boulevard, on July 23, 2017, and Roland was shot and killed.

Though Roland’s family did not appear in court for the plea, Roland’s daughter, Ericka, previously told The Palm Beach Post her father would put together a makeshift barbershop in a relative’s home to give kids free haircuts before each school year.

“He was a man’s man,” Ericka Roland said in 2017. “He made everybody feel welcome.”

After court, Skier said he, Jenkins and his family are “ecstatic” about the resolution

“This was a very difficult decision for all involved, given the fact (Jenkins) maintained his innocence since he was originally detained on the homicide charge,” Skier said.

Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies were called to a restaurant off Okeechobee Boulevard where an employee told dispatchers a man came to their store with gunshot wounds to his abdomen.

That man, later identified as Roland, told deputies he was shot at his home on Myla Lane and was with a woman at the time of the shooting. He later died at St. Mary’s Medical Center.

Roland’s girlfriend at the time said she had changed the locks on the home after having issues with Roland, according to the sheriff’s office report. She said she and several others were in the residence that morning making breakfast when Roland came in through a back door, yelling about his clothes being outside.

What happened next is unclear.

In her first interview, Roland’s girlfriend told deputies a masked man shot him. In the second interview, she said she asked a person who went by the name “Gloveman” to be in the home. She said she asked him to remove Roland’s items from the residence and act as protection for her and her son in case her boyfriend was upset. In a third interview, Roland’s girlfriend said it was her nephew, Curtis Jenkins, who shot and killed Roland.

She told deputies that after the shooting, she and the others in the home went to Jenkins’ mother’s home.

A second witness gave similarly varying statements about the shooting, according to sheriff’s office records.

Deputies noted that of the several people in the home at the time of the shooting, none called 911 for help.

Investigators said Jenkins’ girlfriend was at the home when Roland was shot and that her car was seen fleeing the scene after the shooting. The day after they contacted her, she and Jenkins were involved in a car crash in Virginia. Jenkins was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries from the crash in July 2017, and he was arrested in connection to Roland’s death months later.

Skier said the inconsistent statements from the witnesses who identified Jenkins and the fact that Roland did not identify his client, even though Roland spoke with deputies briefly before his death, were just some of the issues with the evidence against Jenkins.

Original story by Palm Beach Post.