A former Eastern Kentucky University student pleaded guilty Wednesday in the 2010 kidnappings and deaths of a Richmond couple.
Daniel Keene, 30, who was scheduled for trial in April, pleaded guilty to two counts each of murder, kidnapping and abuse of a corpse, plus burglary and tampering with evidence. Commonwealth’s Attorney David Smith recommended 40 years in prison.
Madison Circuit Judge Jean Chenault Logue set sentencing for May 3.
Keene was indicted in 2012 in the deaths of Sonsarary “Sonsi” Warford, 30, and her boyfriend, Charles DeMarcus “Chew” Walker, 30, who had been missing since June 2010. Their bodies were found buried in a field near Richmond four years ago. Keene had told police he dug the grave while co-defendant Matt Denholm tortured and executed Warford and Walker.
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Walker was targeted in a contract killing by a Richmond drug dealer because Walker allegedly had stolen $180,000 from the man, according to an affidavit filed in the case. Police said Warford was not a target but died because she was with Walker at the time.
Denholm pleaded guilty in 2014 to the murders and to the 2011 unrelated murder of a person in Berea. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years.
Denholm and Keene knew each other through their work in security for a Lexington hotel, according to an affidavit.
They both served in Iraq and Afghanistan but were not together during those deployments.
Keene was a physics major at EKU at the time of his arrest in March 2012.
On Wednesday, Gregory Todd, Warford’s father, wore a T-shirt depicting his daughter and Walker. Todd said he and his family would have preferred a stiffer penalty for Keene, but he said the recommended sentence “was OK with us.”
“It’s been a long time coming,” Todd said. “It’s been hard for what we’ve been through.”
Greg Kocher: 859-231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety