Third person indicted in kidnapping, slaying of Richmond couple

gkocher1@herald-leader.comDecember 6, 2012 

A Madison County grand jury has indicted a third person in the kidnapping and murder of a Richmond couple whose bodies were found buried in March after they had been missing for two years.

Lebruce Burtoindale Ellington, 32, was indicted on two counts each of complicity to murder and complicity to kidnapping, plus one count of complicity to burglary and one count of being a persistent felony offender.

The indictment was returned Tuesday and was released Thursday.

Ellington is charged with kidnapping and killing Sonsaray "Sonsi" Warford, 30, and her boyfriend, Charles DeMarcus "Chew" Walker, 30. The two had been missing since late June 2010, but their bodies were found in March, buried in a field near Richmond.

The indictment says Ellington "aided and assisted others not named herein" to murder Warford and Walker.

Ellington joins Daniel R. Keene, 26, and Matt Denholm, 28, who were indicted in May on charges of murder and kidnapping related to the couple's deaths.

Denholm also faces charges of murder and attempted murder in a November 2011 shooting in Berea.

According to a 41-page affidavit filed in March, Ellington told police that a week or two before Walker and Warford disappeared, he, Keene and Denholm drove past the apartment where the couple lived. The apartment is less than a half-mile from the Richmond apartment where Keene lived.

The murder weapon was a .22-caliber revolver that Ellington had provided to Denholm, the affidavit said. Ellington told police that the last time he saw the gun was at Keene's apartment.

The affidavit said Walker was the intended target of a "hit" because he allegedly stole a large amount of money from Ja'Kolbe Chenault, a drug dealer. Ellington told police that Chenault had spoken of "getting back" at Walker and another man. Ellington also said he received $5,000 from Chenault for finding people to carry out the hit, and that Chenault gave Ellington $10,000 to pay Keene and Denholm, the affidavit said.

Warford was killed only because she happened to be with Walker, the affidavit said.

Denholm and Keene were charged after police found two bodies in a grave off Tates Creek Road near Richmond.

Denholm and Keene are scheduled to go on trial Aug. 12, 2013 in Madison Circuit Court.

Ellington was arrested in November 2011 on federal drug conspiracy and distribution charges. A sealed plea agreement filed in October is listed among the documents in U.S. District Court in Lexington, but the contents of the plea agreement are not available to the public or media without the court's consent.

Robert Michael Murphy, Ellington's lawyer, said Thursday he cannot divulge the plea agreement's contents without the consent of the court. Ellington is scheduled for sentencing in federal court on June 3, 2013.

Public defender Bridget Saunders, an attorney for Denholm, said in March that Ellington had received a proffer for possible leniency on the federal drug charges in exchange for information about the disappearances of Warford and Walker.

Those facing stiff federal penalties "are very motivated in saying anything they can to lessen their load," Saunders said at the time.

Madison County Commonwealth's Attorney David Smith had no comment when asked whether Ellington will receive leniency on the federal case in exchange for his cooperation in the Warford-Walker case.

Asked whether any more state indictments might come in connection with the Warford-Walker deaths, Smith said the case remains under investigation.

Ellington was being held in the Woodford County jail, according to its website.

Although their bodies were discovered in March, the funerals for Warford and Walker were not held until Nov. 3 and Nov. 10, respectively, in Richmond.

That's because a Madison district judge had ordered evidence in the case, including the bodies, to be preserved until the defense for Denholm and Keene could examine it. The bodies were released to the families in October.

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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