3 men accused in 2015 robbery, killing of UK student plead guilty in case

3 men accused in 2015 robbery, killing of UK student plead guilty in case
Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 10:30 AM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Three men, accused of killing a UK student during a “robbery gone wrong” pleaded guilty in the case Thursday morning.

According to Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Justin Smith, Roman Gonzalez and Efrain Diaz Jr. pleaded guilty in connection with the robbery and shooting of Jonathan Krueger back in 2015.

The 22-year-old was a journalism student at UK. He and a friend were walking near campus when investigators say Smith, Gonzalez and Diaz approached them. Krueger’s friend was able to get away during the robbery, but Jonathan was shot.

Gonzalez pleaded guilty to murder and two counts of robbery. Smith pleaded guilty to manslaughter, robbery and evading police. Diaz pleaded guilty to robbery.

The trial for all three had been on hold while an appeal over the death penalty played out with the state Supreme Court.

A judge had taken the death penalty off the table in the case because of how old Diaz and Smith were at the time of the murder. Diaz was 20 and Smith was 18.

Defense attorneys argued their brains were not fully developed at the time. The Commonwealth challenged that ruling, but prosecutors eventually decided they would no longer seek the death penalty.

The sentencing hearing has been scheduled for April 28.

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