Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

A man who pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the killing of a father who took his teenage son to buy a cellphone advertised online is being sentenced to 26 years in state prison.

Markell Thomas, 20, also pleaded guilty to two robbery charges and testified in the trial of Ryan Roth, with whom he had been charged in the Oct. 19, 2013, shooting death of Rene Balbuena, 41.

Jurors acquitted Roth in September of Balbuena’s killing and the attempted murder of Balbuena’s 15-year-old son, along with robbery counts stemming from the encounter.

Roth’s attorney, Anthony Willoughby, contended that Thomas was trying to “deflect the blame” from himself, though prosecutors said Roth was the gunman.

Jurors deadlocked Thursday on two other robbery counts against Roth stemming from an unrelated heist in August 2013. A second jury deliberated less than a day before convicting Roth on May 12 of those two charges, and he was sentenced Monday to nine years in state prison.

–City News Service

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