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Shooter who killed WSJH coach sentenced to 40 years in prison

BATON ROUGE — Four years after West St. John High School coach Juan Anthony Joseph was slain by gunfire while diffusing a verbal altercation outside a Baton Rouge nightclub, his Edgard family is seeing the first glimpses of closure.

The gunman, Jamarcus Goodman, 26, of Houston, was sentenced to 40 years in prison Monday after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Goodman admitted to firing two fatal shots at Juan, 27, using a 9mm semi-automatic pistol on Nov. 16, 2014.

Goodman’s actions were not done in self-defense, according to the prosecution.

The driver of the vehicle Goodman was in, Lemark Cloud, of Baton Rouge, was sentenced to more than seven years in prison in 2016 after pleading guilty to attempted possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Goodman’s 40-year sentence begins in 2022 in Louisiana, after he finishes serving time in Texas from an aggravated robbery conviction.

Juan’s father, Greg “Buck” Joseph, said no sentence is great enough to account for the loss.

“If it was one year or 100 years, no sentence given would ever bring back what we’ve lost as a family,” Buck said. “I know the young man I raised didn’t deserve what happened out there that night. At the end of the day, we’re going to move on as a family, send our prayers up to God and live as comfortably as we can through this.”

Juan’s death left holes in the hearts of his mother, Elizabeth Robiskie Joseph; brother Dray Joseph; young daughter Ariya Nevah and pregnant wife Kala Esco.

His youngest daughter, Nyla Nauj, was born weeks after his death.

Though the trial left the family emotionally drained, Buck said the sentencing was a step toward healing.

“To keep our family from going back to court every day, every other day or every month; that’s closure for us,” Buck said.

“I want to thank everybody in the community and from all parts of Louisiana, who have been real kind and gentle to my family through messages and phone calls. It has brought some form closure to our lives and to his wife.”

Some questions would never be answered, according to Buck, including the all-encompassing “Why?”

Buck said the only way to trek forward is to trust in Jesus Christ, adding his wife, Betty, instilled within Juan the values of Christianity, love and how to endure hardship.

Juan, a 2005 graduate of West St. John High School, was a leading force in the 2003 and 2004 Rams state championship football teams.

In high school, he was an honor student with a 4.1 GPA and multi-spot athlete who also played basketball and baseball.

Juan attended Millsaps College in Mississippi, where he earned his bachelors in business and a masters degree in management.

He was an exceptional quarterback on the Millsaps football team, finishing his career with 9,292 passing yards, 87 touchdowns and three Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year Awards.

Buck said Juan’s most prestigious achievement was beating out Michael Oher and Peria Jerry for the 2008 Conerly Trophy, naming him the top collegiate player in the state of Mississippi.

After returning to West St. John High School, Juan served as the quarterbacks coach, assistant basketball coach and head baseball coach.

Juan’s legacy is far from forgotten.

In July, the West Bank Recreation Park of Edgard was renamed the Juan Anthony Joseph Memorial Park.

Buck said Juan was humble in regards to his accomplishments, which have continued to mount after his death.

“Around Oct. 13, Juan was inducted into the Millsaps Hall of Fame,” Buck said. “You go on the ballot after 10 years being out of college, so he made it on his first year.”