Judge tells defendant not to 'play games with the court,' sentences him to 30 years for murder

gkocher1@herald-leader.comJuly 10, 2014 

The third of four defendants in a 2012 Lexington murder case was sentenced Thursday in Fayette Circuit Court, but not before he tried to take back his guilty plea.

Kirby Bryan Ruano, 22, who pleaded guilty in December to murder and complicity to robbery, said he felt rushed and pressured at the time.

"I feel like I had no time to think about it," Ruano told Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone.

Public defender Joanne Lynch said a plea deal was offered by the commonwealth's attorney's office on Dec. 19, and the plea was entered in court the next day.

It's common for defendants to get cold feet about guilty pleas, but Scorsone told Ruano he could not withdraw his plea unless there was some constitutional problem or error.

Defendants who enter guilty pleas must answer a series of questions about their mental status, waiver of constitutional rights and whether they are satisfied with their legal counsel.

"I went through all those questions and I assume you answered truthfully," Scorsone told Ruano.

Ruano and Lynch discussed the matter for a few minutes outside the courtroom. When they returned, the sentencing proceeded. But Ruano got into another exchange with the judge, who by that time had lost his patience.

"We can't play games with the court," Scorsone said.

"Oh, I'm not playing games," Ruano said.

"I go to great effort to listen and to ask you questions to make sure that when you tell me you want to plead guilty, it's because you want to plead guilty," Scorsone said. "A lot of people want to change their mind after they plead guilty, but we don't allow people to change their mind just like that and play games with the court, OK? Unless there is something I can point to that says there was something totally deficient about the process that was followed in which you decided to plead guilty, I'm not going to allow you" to take back the plea.

Scorsone then sentenced Ruano to 30 years in prison for murder and 10 years for complicity to robbery, to be served concurrently. Ruano is to get credit for 672 days served.

Joseph Edward Sales Jr., 24, and Juan Manuel Chavarria, 23, were sentenced to identical prison terms in April.

Brittany Ann Shipman, 24, pleaded guilty to complicity to robbery in June in exchange for a recommended 10-year sentence. She is scheduled for sentencing Thursday.

The defendants were charged in the slaying of Saul Perez Ruiz, 33, who was shot on July 16, 2012, at an apartment on Dinsmore Drive.

Lexington police said at the time that one or more people forced their way into Ruiz's apartment and opened fire. Witnesses said it appeared that Ruiz returned fire.

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

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