One of the men accused in the 2016 Ghost Bridge murder case entered a plea to amended charges Monday morning ahead of the trial against his codefendant in August.
Dequavion James, 23, appeared in Christian Circuit Court Judge John Atkins’ courtroom alongside his defense attorney, David Rye, to enter a guilty plea for his involvement in the murder of De’Andre Palmer in July 2016.
James, who was originally charged with murder, first-degree robbery and tampering with physical evidence, entered a plea amending his murder charge to first-degree manslaughter.
As part of the deal, the commonwealth recommends that James be sentenced to 20 years in prison for manslaughter and 10 years for robbery, with those charges to run consecutively for a total of 30 years in prison.
The commonwealth also recommended that James be required to serve 20 years before becoming eligible for parole.
Christian County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rick Boling said Palmer’s family is pleased with the plea deal and the time James will likely spend behind bars.
Atkins scheduled James to be sentenced on Aug. 4. Atkins also scheduled a bond hearing to be held on Thursday at the request of Rye on his behalf.
James’ codefendant, Leonardo Miller, 24, is currently scheduled for a jury trial set to begin on Aug. 9.
“We look forward to trying Leonardo Miller for the same crime,” Boling said.
According to court documents, on the night of Palmer’s murder on July 16, 2016, James was told by Miller to shoot Palmer. James shot Palmer once before Miller shot him a second time. Palmer later died from the two gunshot wounds.
Miller is currently charged with murder, first-degree robbery and tampering with physical evidence. Miller is also charged with theft by unlawful taking over $500, but less than $10,000 in an unrelated case. Both cases are set to be tried in August.
According to New Era archives, James and Miller were accused of dumping Palmer’s body near Ghost Bridge on Carter Road in Oak Grove. Palmer was reported missing July 16, 2016. His body was discovered four days later.
James turned himself into police on July 27, 2016, after Kentucky State Police released information indicating he was a suspect in the murder. After turning himself in, James allegedly admitted to police he killed Palmer.
Miller was arrested Aug. 5, 2016, at the Christian County Jail where he was being held on a theft charge.
Also according to New Era archives, KSP Detective Scott Smith testified that he believed James shot Palmer twice in Miller’s home, wrapped Palmer’s body in a blanket and put trash bags over his head and legs before putting him in a closet. Smith also told the court all items were removed from Palmer’s pockets, including $150, a phone and other items.
The pair then allegedly cleaned up the house and took Palmer’s body to Ghost Bridge, where they dumped it and left. They reportedly used a truck Palmer had been borrowing from a relative. The truck was tested and evidence was found in the bed of the truck, Smith said.