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Saturday, July 08, 2017 1:00 am

20-year-old to serve 12 years for '16 killing

Judge wouldn't let guilty plea be withdrawn

FRANK GRAY | The Journal Gazette

A Fort Wayne man originally charged with murder in a 2016 killing was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter after a judge refused to let him withdraw a guilty plea he had agreed to last month.

Daquavion Johnson, 20, was charged with killing Leon-Dre Kyles-Thomas on Aug. 13 in the 1300 block of Green Street.

Witnesses told police that Johnson, who was riding a bicycle, got off his bike, pulled out a gun and started shooting at three men nearby.

One bullet hit Kyles-Thomas in the chest, killing him.

In early June, Johnson agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter as part of a plea agreement.

Murder and other charges were dismissed.

In court Friday, he tried to withdraw that guilty plea.

However, Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck said he had carefully reviewed the agreement and said that Johnson was fully advised of his rights and waived those rights when he agreed to the guilty plea, so he had no good cause to withdraw the plea.

Surbeck sentenced Johnson to 20 years in prison with 8 years suspended, 12 years behind bars and four years' probation. He also told Johnson to tell his friends at the jail that guilty pleas are not something you withdraw on a whim.

Johnson protested that the men he shot at had shot at him three times first and he just returned fire.

After the sentencing, a family member of Kyles-Thomas blurted out, “You're going to prison,” drawing a quick response from bailiffs and irritating Surbeck.

Outside the courtroom, family members of Kyles-Thomas expressed unhappiness that charges of carrying a handgun without a license and using a handgun in a crime were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

fgray@jg.net