Trey Leon Lee (Courtesy photo)

Trey Leon Lee

Homicide — Man Charged, Pleads to Lesser Charges

Trey Leon Lee
24 YOA
1200 block of 15th Place near Evelyn Davis Park
Des Moines, Iowa
March 17, 2017


Trey Leon Lee, 24, was fatally shot on Friday, March 17, 2017, in the 1200 block of 15th Place near Evelyn Davis Park in Des Moines’ King Irving neighborhood.

Officers were sent around 4 p.m. to the scene near Evelyn Davis Park on reports of a shooting. When they arrived, they found two men who’d sustained gunshot wounds.

Lee, whose girlfriend was pregnant with their second son, was rushed to a hospital, where he later died. His death marked the city’s ninth of 25 homicides in 2017, the bloodiest year in Des Moines since 1978 when 27 people were killed, the Des Moines Register reported on Jan. 11, 2019.

Courtesy photo Linh Ta/The Register
Trey Lee was fatally shot Friday, March 17, 2017, in the 1200 block of 15th Place in Des Moines.

Police said the 24-year-old Lee, who lived in Des Moines, died from a gunshot wound to the chest.

The other victim, identified as 24-year-old Patrick Young, also of Des Moines, was shot in the foot but survived.

More than two people fired shots when a dispute broke out after about four people were involved in narcotics activity, Des Moines Police Sgt. Paul Parizek told the Des Moines Register.

Police identified two suspects in the killing, but witnesses refused to cooperate with police.

Ten months after Lee’s death, detectives arrested Alonzo Marlon Gibbs, 24, on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, and charged him with first-degree murder in Lee’s homicide. The arrest came on what would have been Lee’s 25th birthday.

Gibbs maintains innocence

According to police, Gibbs was already in custody for Federal firearms charges. His trial related to those charges ended Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, and he was then arrested on the murder charge.

Courtesy photo Special to the Register
Alonzo Gibbs, who was charged with first-degree murder in the March 2017 killing of Trey Lee in Des Moines.

Evidence showed Gibbs fired the shot that killed Lee, Parizek told the Register the day of Gibbs’ arrest. Although Lee may have been involved in drug activity that afternoon, Parizek said, he did not deserve to die.

“The penalty for dope isn’t the death penalty; it isn’t murder,” he said.

After his arrest, Gibbs was held on a $1 million cash bond at the Polk County Jail but maintained his innocence in the homicide. Records showed he had convictions for drug offenses, and, in 2016 court records, authorities called him a known member of the Heavy Hittas gang with a history of dealing narcotics.

In June 2018 Gibbs asked a judge to review his motion to dismiss the case, asserting “I am (an) innocent person,” the Register reported.

In the court filing, the Register said, Gibbs included a statement purportedly signed by the man shot that day, in which that person said he saw someone else shoot Lee as he held his hands up.

Gibbs said other witnesses corroborated that account, pointing to documents that appear to be minutes of testimony written by prosecutors. Those records are not public in Iowa criminal cases, so the authenticity of the copies Gibbs cited can’t be verified, the Register reported in the Jan. 11, 2019, story.

Trey Lee’s family members had rejoiced at the news of an arrest, but all that changed when, in December 2018, the Polk County Attorney’s Office amended Gibbs’ charges and Gibbs pleaded guilty to charges of intimidation with a dangerous weapon and possession of a firearm as a felon.

Murder charges dropped

On Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, Gibbs was sentenced to 15 years in prison, the Register reported.

The Register’s Jan. 11 article included, in part:

In a phone interview from jail Thursday, Gibbs expressed relief the murder charge — which carries a sentence of life in prison — was dropped, saying it felt like a weight was lifted from his shoulders. He believed he was charged because, unlike another man involved, he was acquitted at a federal gun trial, though he had no evidence to back the accusation.

“I just feel like I beat a fed case and they had to charge somebody with something,” Gibbs said. “Why not charge the one that got away?”

Polk County Attorney John Sarcone called the assertion “not accurate at all” and said his office does not base charges on what federal prosecutors do. When Gibbs was arrested, he said, local prosecutors had enough evidence to move forward with a murder case.

In new court documents, prosecutors said Gibbs fired a gun that sunny afternoon with the intention of harming others. Sarcone said the resolution was based on evidence, but he would not comment on specifics before Gibbs was sentenced Friday morning.

Gibbs in the courtroom Friday told Judge Jeffrey Farrell that he takes full responsibility for the charges for which he pleaded guilty.

“But as far as anything to do with a friend of mine, I don’t want that on my back; I can’t have that on my heart,” Gibbs said of Lee, whom he called a “dear friend.”

No one else has been charged in Lee’s killing. In an email, one of Gibbs’ public defenders, Trevor Andersen, said another man admitted he shot Lee.

Sarcone wished people with information about the homicide would speak to authorities, but he said a lack of cooperation would not stop his office from seeking justice.

“These things are always open,” he said.

Read The Register’s full story here.

About Trey Leon Lee (from official obituary)

Trey Leon Lee was born January 25, 1993 in Des Moines Iowa to Montez Lee and Lynette (Lester) Ware. Trey was educated in the Des Moines Public Schools graduating from North High School where he played football and basketball.

Trey worked in roofing for most of his adult life to support his family. He was a valued employee of the Centi Roofing and Remodeling Company.

Trey was an excellent father. When his children had a basketball or football game you would see him right there, front row center smiling and screaming “GO SON GO!!! As a child he loved yugio cards and still loved Lego’s. He loved helping the kids build Lego cars. He was very respectful to others. He loved music and loved to rap. He was definitely a family and friends favorite when it came to enjoying life. He also loved the outdoors.

Courtesy photo Katie Lou,
Trey Leon Lee is buried at Glendale Cemetery in Des Moines.

On Friday, March 17, 2017, Trey went home to be with Lord. Waiting for him with open arms were his grandparents George Lester, Leona Lester, and Leon Windsor Lee.

Left to cherish his memories are his children, Trey’Mier Lee Bell; stepson, Camarion Bell; his companion, DeShay Bell and a baby Boy on the way. He also leaves his mother, Lynette Ware; stepfather, Jerry Ware and father, Montez Lee; his siblings, Marcus Lester, Lonnell Kinchelow, Michael Lomax Jr., Jemaree Ware and step siblings, Tisha Ware, DeMassion Ware and his grandmother, Sherry Prescott, and a host of aunts, cousins, uncles, nieces, nephews, many acquaintance’s and close friends.

Visitation with family present was held Thursday, March 30, 2017, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Henderson’s Highland Park Funeral Home, 3500 6th Ave. in Des Moines. Funeral services were held Friday, March 31, 2017, at 12 p.m. at Revival Center C.O.G.I.C., 3816 36th St. in Des Moines.

Trey was laid to rest at the Glendale Cemetery in Des Moines.

Information Needed

Police ask anyone with information about ongoing homicide investigations to call the Des Moines Police Department at 515-283-4811 or Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa at 515-223-1400.


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