Two men initially charged with murder pleaded guilty Monday to lesser charges in connection with the 2010 shooting death of Rocardo "Tezzy" Cole outside a Lexington strip club.
Joseph Demetrius Richardson, 27, pleaded guilty to reckless homicide. Prosecutors recommended he serve five years in prison.
Kenneth Winston Wadkins, 33, pleaded guilty to first-degree facilitation to manslaughter. Prosecutors recommended he, too, serve five years in prison.
On Dec. 18, 2010, Cole, 29, was shot twice in the parking lot of Camelot West on Alexandria Drive. He was taken to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, where he died.
Cole's mother and grandmother said after Monday's proceeding in Fayette Circuit Court that they didn't think justice was done, especially in light of the fact that Richardson admitted publicly to shooting Cole.
"It's justice, so they say, but it's wrong," said Ella Cole, the grandmother. "I don't feel like justice has been done."
"I feel like he's been killed all over again," said Elanda Warren, Cole's mother.
But Fayette County Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Kimberly Baird said Richardson did not admit to shooting Cole until he entered the guilty plea on Monday. Both defendants had maintained before their pleas that they were not in the area at the time of the shooting, Baird said.
Wadkins said his involvement began when he tried to break up a confrontation but fled when he thought he saw Cole reach for a gun. Richardson said he shot Cole because, he, too, thought Cole was reaching for a gun. Wadkins gave Richardson a ride away from the scene, which was the basis for the facilitation charge.
Charges of being a persistent felon were dismissed against both men.
Police had trouble getting people to come forward and tell what they saw or knew about the case, Baird said.
"Nobody was standing in the parking lot and saw the actual shooting, but there were people who saw bits and pieces of it," Baird said. "Based on those witnesses, and my conversations with the defense, we negotiated a plea for the two of them."
Baird said the commonwealth's attorney's office has had multiple meetings with Cole's family.
"There is nothing I could have offered, nothing that (the defendants) could have pled to, that would bring Tezzy back or that could equate the number of years (in prison) to the value of his life, by any stretch," Baird said.
Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael Jr. scheduled final sentencing for April 30.
"No winners here," Ishmael said at the conclusion of the plea hearing. "It makes me sad to preside over something like this."
Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety