Crime

Two men sentenced in 2006 slaying; one held in contempt for 'flipping off'

One of two men convicted of killing a University of Kentucky student was sentenced Friday to life in prison. The second man was sentenced to 44 years.

Raymond Larry Wright, 29, who was sentenced to life, could have the possibility of parole after 25 years Adrian Lamont Benton, 31, will have the possibility of parole after 20 years, Fayette Circuit Judge Thomas Clark ruled.

Benton and Wright were convicted in May of shooting John G. Mattingly III in the head after bursting into a house on Wilson Street that Mattingly shared with several friends. Mattingly, 23, died July 10, 2006, after his life-support equipment was disconnected. He was the son of Marion County Judge-Executive John G. Mattingly and Janet Mattingly, who were in the courtroom Friday with several other relatives.

Wright pleaded guilty in May, just days before his trial was scheduled to begin, to one count of murder and two counts of complicity to first-degree robbery. Wright admitted that he shot Mattingly, accepting a plea deal that eliminated the death penalty as a sentencing option.

Benton went to trial and was convicted of complicity to second-degree manslaughter, one count of complicity to first-degree robbery, two counts of first-degree robbery, one count of second-degree assault, one count of first-degree wanton endangerment and being a second-degree persistent felon.

On Friday, Wright told the court: "I'm sorry for my actions."

Benton said he wanted to apologize to the court and to Mattingly's family.

The jury recommended penalties of seven to 27 years on each charge for which Benton was convicted. They recommended that he serve those sentences concurrently, totalling 27 years.

Clark accepted the jury's recommendations on the individual charges, but he allowed several charges to run consecutively, totalling 44 years.

As a frustrated Benton exited the courtroom, he lifted his middle finger toward the audience. Clark brought him back into the courtroom to discuss the incident.

"It was reported to me by court personnel upon leaving the courtroom that — for lack of a better term — you were flipping off the victim's family," Clark said.

Benton told the judge he didn't know the victim's family was present, and that he was flipping off his own father, who was seated in the audience behind several news reporters.

"I don't care who you were flipping off. So you admit you were flipping off somebody in my court, in open court?" Clark asked.

Clark found Benton in contempt of court. That finding could affect when Benton is eligible for parole, attorneys said.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Kimberly Baird said after the hearing that she and Mattingly's family were relieved that the case — which has been pending since 2006 — was over.

"After five years, this is finally over, and they have some closure," Baird said.

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