By Jeff Lehr
GIRARD, Kan. —
Prosecution of the Ryan Bailey murder case moved a step closer to completion Wednesday with the formal sentencing of the Pittsburg man’s shooter, Rickey R. Smith, to 26 years and 10 months in prison.
District Judge John Gariglietti assessed Smith, 23, of Joplin, Mo., the prison term at a hearing in Crawford County District Court in Girard. The defendant must serve 85 percent of the sentence before he will be eligible for parole.
In taking a plea deal in January, Smith admitted that he was the one who shot the 21-year-old Bailey on Oct. 6, 2011, during a bungled home-invasion robbery attempt at Bailey’s home in Pittsburg. He and three other Joplin men were charged with the crime.
Smith turned state’s evidence against the others to get a count of first-degree murder that he was facing reduced to second-degree murder. He also was convicted of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery.
Oscar C. DeLeon Jr. and Randu Rivera, both of whom were 18 at the time of the slaying and are now 19, pleaded guilty in April to second-degree murder and were assessed prison terms of 172 months.
The case of a fourth defendant, Nathan D. Whitney, has yet to be decided. He remained a fugitive from justice until March of this year, when he was arrested in Columbia, Mo. He was sent to Johnson County, Mo., on an alleged probation violation after the arrest. The probation that was assessed on a conviction for receiving stolen property was revoked in May, and he was ordered to serve a five-year term in Missouri.
Michael Gayoso, the Crawford County prosecutor, said his office soon will be seeking a detainer on Whitney to bring him back to Kansas to face a charge of first-degree murder.
“We’re waiting for him to be placed in a correctional facility (in Missouri),” Gayoso said.
He said Whitney is still at a diagnostic center of the Missouri prison system awaiting placement.
Smith testified at DeLeon’s preliminary hearing in February that all four defendants went to Bailey’s home with the intention of robbing him of about $10,000 in cash that DeLeon thought Bailey had in a safe in his bedroom.
Smith said Bailey was DeLeon’s marijuana dealer, and that Smith and DeLeon had gone to his home three days earlier with the same intention but were thwarted when Bailey answered the door with a gun in his hand.
Authorities said Smith and Whitney entered Bailey’s home together the night of the shooting, while DeLeon and Rivera waited outside. Smith was carrying a 9 mm handgun, which he said he swung in the direction of Bailey as Bailey arose from his couch and demanded to know who was in his house. Smith told the court that he meant to hit Bailey with the gun, not shoot him. But the weapon discharged, and Bailey was shot in the neck and fell to the floor at Smith’s feet.
RYAN BAILEY left behind a wife and two young children who were in the home the night of the murder.