Crime

Versailles man pleads guilty to slaying of teen who sought job at Keeneland

Alexander Muniz is escorted Wednesday from Woodford Circuit Court in Versailles by Sgt. Ricky Vaught of the Woodford County Sheriff's Office. Muniz pleaded guilty Wednesday to manslaughter and tampering with physical evidence in the April 2011 shooting death of James Michael Crowe, 18. Sentencing for Muniz is scheduled for June 6. This photo was taken on Wednesday, May 2, 2012. Photo by Greg Kocher | Staff

gkocher1@herald-leader.com
Alexander Muniz is escorted Wednesday from Woodford Circuit Court in Versailles by Sgt. Ricky Vaught of the Woodford County Sheriff's Office. Muniz pleaded guilty Wednesday to manslaughter and tampering with physical evidence in the April 2011 shooting death of James Michael Crowe, 18. Sentencing for Muniz is scheduled for June 6. This photo was taken on Wednesday, May 2, 2012. Photo by Greg Kocher | Staff gkocher1@herald-leader.com Greg Kocher | Staff

VERSAILLES — A Versailles man pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to an amended charge of first-degree manslaughter in the April 2011 shooting death of a Prestonsburg teenager.

Alexander Muniz, 28, who was initially charged with murder, faces a 20-year prison sentence in the death of James Michael Crowe, 18.

Unable to find employment in Floyd County, Crowe moved to Versailles to look for a job and landed one at Keeneland Race Course, but he had not started at the time he was shot to death on April 22, 2011. Relatives said Crowe was shot nine times.

The shooting happened in a parking lot on Arbor Ann Drive off Clifton Road in Versailles.

Muniz, appearing in court with defense attorney Russell Baldani of Lexington, also pleaded guilty to one count of tampering with evidence for disposing of the gun used to shoot Crowe.

Under the plea agreement, Muniz will receive 15 years for manslaughter plus five years for the tampering charge. The sentences are to run consecutively.

Muniz will have to serve at least 85 percent of the total sentence before he is eligible for parole.

Crowe's relatives appeared in court wearing black T-shirts with his name, birth and death dates, and 66, the number he wore as a defensive lineman on the Prestonsburg High School football team.

Some relatives expressed bitterness at the plea agreement, saying it was accepted by Crowe's father, James "Jimmie" Burton Crowe II of Palatka, Fla.

Jackie Ousley, an aunt, said she had hoped for more prison time for Muniz.

"I was hoping for life in prison," Ousley said.

The death penalty was not an option because there was no "aggravating circumstance," such as robbery or kidnapping, related to the shooting.

"Being shot nine times wasn't enough" for the death penalty, Ousley said.

Woodford Circuit Court Judge Rob Johnson scheduled sentencing for June 6.

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