Three of the female defendants charged in the Dec. 26, 2016, robbery and killing of a Pizza Hut delivery employee in Frankfort have been able to avoid trial, reduce their charges and/or reduce sentences.
A trial for 19-year-old Victorya Paige Young, who was accused of luring 21-year-old Jared Banta to the Country Hills Apartments parking lot where he was robbed and later died, was supposed to begin Monday in Franklin County Circuit Court. But a special prosecutor appointed to handle the case dropped the trial in favor of mediation to get a plea agreement, which often involves less serious charges, according to court records and the Frankfort State Journal.
Young could testify against the remaining two defendants, both men, out of the original five.
Before Monday’s trial, the Frankfort woman was charged with complicity to murder, a capital offense, and first-degree robbery, a Class B felony.
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“If we get it resolved, great,” Goldy told the Journal about the mediation. “If not, we’ll get a new trial date”
Young is the latest female defendant to earn plea or sentence-shortening considerations. Brooke Kennedy and Cameron Montgomery, who are 20 years old, were also indicted on complicity to murder and robbery, according to court records. They allegedly sat in a car next to Banta’s during the crimes.
They pleaded guilty to less serious charges. Montgomery pleaded guilty to complicity to robbery and complicity to reckless homicide and was released in May from prison on shock probation, according to state court and corrections department records. Kennedy, who pleaded guilty in May 2017 to complicity to robbery and facilitation to murder, hasn’t been sentenced, but the recommendation was 15 years, according to court records and the State Journal. Both are expected to help in the prosecution of the others.
Young is accused of luring Banta with her interest in buying marijuana from him. She was in Banta’s front passenger seat when Krishaun Mays, 19, and Kedrick Burton, 22, got in the backseat, according to previous prosecutor statements..
According to the State Journal, the men robbed Banta with Mays killing Banta with a shot to his torso, police have said. The attackers, most in their teens at the time, were accused of leaving Banta to die in his car, which wasn’t discovered until the following morning, the newspaper reported.
Mays faces murder and robbery charges while Burton, like Young, was charged with complicity to murder and robbery.
According to court documents, Young told investigators the teens robbed Banta so they could go on a shopping spree in Lexington.
The previous prosecutor, Larry Cleveland, who made plea deals with Kennedy and Montgomery, recused himself from the rest of the case, according to court records and the State Journal.
When arguing for no reduced bond in March 2017, Cleveland supplied a transcript of the audio from a video recording from one of the women’s phones the night of the killing. There were also text messages among the group about the crime and statements from at least two of the women, Young and Kennedy.
“They’re gonna know. We’re gonna be in so much trouble,” Young said in the recording after she rejoined the other young women in their car. “Krishaun cranked the thing, put it to his head like he was about to shoot him. And he … slung it against his head …that’s when I got out. I was like, ‘I’m sorry.’”