A man convicted of killing his friend and fellow airman with a hammer was sentenced to 32 years in prison on Friday.

Alaska Superior Court Judge Jack W. Smith sentenced 26-year-old former Airman First Class James Thomas to 50 years in jail with 20 suspended for the charge of second-degree murder in the beating death of 22-year-old Senior Airman Clinton Reeves. He also handed down two concurrent sentences of five years each with three years suspended for two charges of tampering with physical evidence.

Reeves was first reported missing April 23, 2012. His body was found May 8, 2012, by a trio of women walking along Skyline Drive in Eagle River, Anchorage police reported.

Terry Reeves and Judy Davis, Reeves’ parents, each gave a victim impact statement at the sentencing, according to court documents. They and other family members in Kansas and California coordinated a search effort with the U.S. Air Force when Reeves first went missing.

Clinton Reeves

Clinton Reeves

A joint investigation between the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Anchorage Police Department led to Thomas’ arrest the same day Reeves was found. Thomas was initially charged with six counts of tampering with physical evidence and considered a person of interest, but a hammer covered in Reeves’ blood was later recovered from the back of Thomas’s truck.

In June 2012, a grand jury handed down an indictment of 11 charges against Thomas, including one count of first-degree murder, three counts of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree robbery, along with the evidence tampering charges. Thomas pleaded guilty to three of the charges in April 2014 as part of a plea agreement.

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