A Gulfport woman left her abusive husband days before he shot her behind a pediatric clinic where she worked in the Orange Grove community, a prosecutor said.
Jerome Jefferson Sr. had told his wife, “If I had a gun, I would blow your brains out,” court papers show.
He went to Memorial Physicians Clinic for pediatrics at Acadian Plaza on U.S. 49, where she worked, and they were arguing behind the building on Aug. 7, 2017. Jefferson has admitted he didn’t want their relationship to end. So he pulled out a gun and shot her in the back of her head.
Sierra Jefferson, the mother of three children, was able to tell doctors and police that her estranged husband shot her as she tried to walk away from him. The 42-year-old woman was taken off life support three days later, a decision that fell on her then 25-year-old son.
Jerome Jefferson Sr., 49, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on Friday, District Attorney Joel Smith said in a news release Saturday.
Circuit Judge Larry Bourgeois sentenced Jefferson to life in prison in Harrison County Circuit Court in Gulfport.
Had the case gone to trial, witnesses were prepared to testify about domestic abuse that led Sierra Jefferson to leave her husband and that he had called her several times the day he shot her, Assistant DA Matthew Burrell said.
Gulfport police obtained video surveillance footage that showed Jerome Jefferson sitting in his car several minutes before he walked toward the clinic, and driving off later.
Burrell said police also recovered information from Jefferson’s cellphone including a text he sent to his young adult son 10 minutes before the shooting. The text said, “It’s all over for me and your mother.”
After the shooting, Jefferson turned himself in at the Harrison County jail.
Sierra Jefferson was described as a beloved employee at the clinic just north of Golden Corral buffet restaurant. She was a medical assistant in a pediatric office and also worked a second job to support her children. Her other job was at the nearby Ulta Beauty store at Crossroads Shopping Center.
Her other children were 4 and 8 at the time.
She was known for her unconditional love, said her son, who carries his father’s name but is known by his nickname, Rome.
“She was all about us children, making sure we had what we needed, having fun with us, and looking forward to seeing how our lives would turn out,” he told the Sun Herald at the time.
Jerome Jefferson Sr. had gone into a rage a couple of nights before the shooting, prompting his wife to leave him, according to their son.
Jerome Jefferson became upset and starting flinging things around the house when his wife told him they were going to get evicted because she couldn’t afford the house note, the son said. He said his mother told him to get the younger children out of the house and she called the police.
Illegal drugs, probably crack cocaine, got the best of Jerome Jefferson, his son said. His father would leave the house at times and be gone for days. Otherwise, he was a nice man, Rome Jefferson said.
“The man who shot my mother was not my father. He was not himself,” he said.
DA Joel Smith blamed the killing on domestic violence, saying this:
“This was a senseless crime of domestic violence where this defendant took away a loving mother from her children and family. Our prayers continue to be with this family and we hope that the conviction and sentence can somehow assist in the healing process.”