NEWTON, Kan. (AP) - A man originally charged with capital murder for the deaths of three people in central Kansas in 2016 has avoided the death penalty by agreeing to plead guilty to four felonies.
Jereme Nelson, 39, pleaded guilty Jan. 10 to intentional second-degree murder, reckless second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and aggravated battery, Harvey County Attorney David Yoder said Tuesday. The plea deal calls for 39 years in prison.
Prosecutors met with the families of Nelson’s three victims before finalizing the deal or announcing it to media, The Newton Kansan reported.
Nelson’s girlfriend, Myrta Rangel, pleaded guilty in July 2018 to federal firearms charges. She admitted that she gave a gun to Nelson knowing he was going to the victims’ home to collect a drug debt.
“This was a case that if we could get a substantial prison sentence, whereby Nelson would be serving most of the rest of his life behind bars, this was something we should look at,” Yoder said. “Nothing can bring back the three victims. … Both decided that rather than take their chances at trial, this was a resolution everyone can live with.”
Prosecutors said Nelson shot and killed Travis Street, 33; Angela Graevs, 37, and Richard Prouty, 52, at a home in rural Moundridge where Street and Graevs lived. They were found dead in a driveway on Oct. 30, 2016. An 18-month-old inside the home was unharmed.
According to Rangel’s plea agreement, Nelson drove to Street’s home, where he shot all three victims in the head. Prouty was at the house to buy meth, according to the plea.
One of the witnesses to the crime died last year and another witness did not see everything that happened, Yoder said.
“The only other person alive that was at the scene was Nelson, and he did not make any statements,” Yoder said. “It came down to proof of premeditation. I don’t think there is any doubt to the killings, there is just how it all occurred at the scene and being able to reconstruct it.”
Nelson and Rangel were arrested Jan. 12, 2017, near Rosarito, Mexico. Nelson faces sentencing on Feb. 3.
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