- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—REDDING, California — A 29-year-old Redding man charged with second-degree murder in the beating death of another Redding man at a Halloween party last year pleaded guilty Monday to voluntary manslaughter following a settlement conference in Shasta County Superior Court.

Jason Lee Duff, who had been scheduled to start standing trial in September and faced 15 years to life in prison if convicted, is now set to be sentenced on Sept. 8.

He is facing a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison, but could be sentenced to a minimum of three years in prison under the terms of his plea bargain.

Duff was arrested Oct. 29, 2014, in the beating death of Cody Leroy Radford, 25, at an Oct. 25 Halloween party at a Concord Lane residence.

Duff’s defense attorney, Aaron Williams, unsuccessfully sought in January to have the murder count reduced to involuntary manslaughter.

“Not every homicide is a murder,” Williams said, citing some witness accounts that only three punches were thrown by Duff during what has been described as a drunken brawl.

But Superior Court Judge Dan Flynn, who accepted Duff’s plea bargain on Monday, sided with prosecutor Curtis Woods at the January hearing, saying Radford never knew what was coming and was unable to defend himself based on his level of intoxication.

Police investigator Will Williams, who testified at Duff’s preliminary hearing, said Radford died from brain swelling as a result of blunt force trauma to his head.

“His face was completely swollen,” Williams testified, adding that one witness to the attack said Duff, who was also reported to be drunk, wrapped Radford’s head in a “weird” chokehold with his legs before later repeatedly punching him numerous times as he was on the ground and also kicked him once on the side of his head.

“He saw blood fly after the kick,” Williams said, adding that witnesses also told him he thought Radford, who was unconscious, was choking on his own blood.

Duff reportedly told police investigators that he punched Radford “once or twice, maybe” after his party guest had allegedly assaulted his girlfriend, identified as Meghan Eades.

Interviewed by investigators, Eades has said Radford, whom she asked to leave the party because he was drunk, obnoxious and annoying other partygoers, had tried to attack her, and that her boyfriend defended her by punching him three times, according to a police report said.

“He attacked her, and I … felt threatened and I stepped in the middle,” Duff told police in an interview with investigators last year, according to the police report.

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(c)2015 the Redding Record Searchlight (Redding, Calif.)

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