Man convicted of gunning down new father outside Tacoma mini-mart gets more than 50 years

TACOMA — The man accused of a murder outside a packed convenience store in Tacoma on Feb. 1, 2016, was sentenced Friday to more than 50 years in prison.

A Pierce County Superior Court jury found Robert Grott, 31, guilty of second-degree murder of Julian Jay Thomas, 23, whose girlfriend had just given birth to their child a few days earlier.

Investigators say the shooting was over a dispute about a missing or stolen gun.

Prosecutors said Grott shot at Thomas more than 46 times outside of an AM-PM store at Center Street and S. Union Avenue, even stopping to reload before continuing to shoot.

Thomas was hit 10 times and killed. Thomas was found dead inside a bullet-riddled vehicle in the parking lot.

At Friday's sentencing hearing, Thomas' family talked about the hole his death had left in their lives.

Grott’s mother tearfully addressed the court at sentencing today. “I believe everyone deserves a chance in spite of their actions. But you took a man’s life from behind. He had no idea what was about to happen until it was too late. For now, I could never forgive you for such a cowardly act.”

After the shooting, Grott fled to Los Angeles before turning himself in to authorities there just over a week later.

Grott was also found guilty of multiple assault charges.