A case that began in 1997 with the killing of two people in Kansas City and prompted a lengthy international extradition fight ended this week with a 15-year prison sentence.
Ralston Wellington pleaded guilty in Jackson County Circuit Court to two counts of voluntary manslaughter for the Feb. 13, 1997, shooting deaths of John E. Bonner and LaKesha LaMaster. He also pleaded guilty to assault for wounding another person.
He was then sentenced to a 15-year prison term as part of a plea agreement that dismissed the original first-degree murder charges.
Wellington’s attorney, Dan Ross, said the plea agreement was a great outcome for his client.
According to court documents, Bonner and LaMaster were innocent victims killed by gunmen who forced their way into a house looking for someone who had stolen $70,000 from a drug house.
Wellington, 38, was on the run for about six years before he was arrested by authorities in England. He fought extradition for about seven years before dropping the action and agreeing to return to the United States last year.
A co-defendant, Warren Price, also pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter last year and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
This article was written by Tony Rizzo and published by the Kansas City Star on September 30, 2011.
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