May 17, 2022

Jackson killer gets life in prison for capital murder, but who is Joshua Dukes?

Therese Apel

Joshua Dukes
James Hankins

A man accused of killing four people in 2016 was convicted of capital murder in the death of an 85-year-old Korean War veteran on Monday.

Joshua Dukes, who then-Jackson Police Chief Lee Vance said actually could qualify as a serial killer, went to court last week on the murder of James Hankins, who was working in his garden when Dukes shot him in the back of the head. Dukes left the scene with Hankins’ wallet. No more.

Hankins family and friends gathered in the courtroom throughout the trial to be sure justice was done, and that James Hankins wasn’t forgotten.

The other two cases, with their three victims, were separated from the Hankins trial.

Shortly before Hankins’ death, he was accused of killing Broderick Smith, who put up a struggle. When the O’Reilly’s auto parts store manager couldn’t open the safe for his attackers, police say there was a fight, and both attackers shot Smith. He was a father and a husband who had gone to work to make a living to support his family, and just like Hankins, there was no reason for him to have been a homicide victim.

Daniel Omar Gomez and Eli Nunez were barbecuing at their home on March 5, 2016. At the time, Vance — who died last summer of Covid as he served as Hinds County Sheriff — said they were shot as they attempted to get away. Even their dog was shot dead, police said. Both victims were pronounced dead at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Vance said police didn’t immediately see the homicides as connected until the pieces started falling into place. They didn’t initially look at the victims, whose only similarities seemed to be their situational harmlessness, and think “serial killer.” But he said meticulous police work from the patrol units that secured the scenes to the investigators who canvassed the neighborhoods sharpened the picture.

“You’ve got to do the basic stuff, and our people did the basic stuff. You’ve got evidence at each crime scene, and we put that evidence together, and it pointed directly at Joshua Dukes,” Vance said at the time.

Dukes has two family members who were already in the system — Antwain Dukes and Jonathan Dukes. The three grew up in the same household and were raised as brothers.

Antwain Dukes was charged in the 2015 death of Carolyn Temple in Belhaven. He was charged with capital murder charge along with Antreal Jones and Jerome Moore for fatally shooting Temple, 69, in her boyfriend’s driveway in 2015.

Jonathan Dukes was nicknamed “the Spider-Man robber” in 2014. In November 2014 the Sprint Mart convenience store and the Waffle House on Mississippi 18 in south Jackson were robbed. Jonathan Dukes was wearing a Spider-Man mask and an outfit that an officer described as “a onesie or something.”

(Some of this story has been copied from a 2015 article from The Clarion-Ledger, written by Therese Apel)

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