THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY
A Toledo man shot during a drug deal gone wrong was sentenced Monday to 30 months in prison.
Kenneth Lee, 28, of 2121 Woodford St. had been indicted for involuntary manslaughter in the Dec. 14 death of his brother-in-law, Lamine Wilson, 32, but entered an Alford plea Oct. 30 to robbery and was found guilty. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit to committing a crime, but acknowledges evidence is sufficient for a conviction.
Prosecutors said Lee had arranged to sell drugs to Danny Kendzierski in East Toledo that night, but when Kendzierski got into the back seat of the car in which he and Wilson were seated, Lee tried to rob his customer and Kendzierski shot him and Wilson.
Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Stacy Cook said she found the case troubling because of the sequence of events, including the fact that Kendzierski, 34, shot both men but was allowed to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter in exchange for a five-year sentence.
“It’s frustrating because you are a man who chose to put yourself in an arena in which people show up with drugs and people show up with guns, and you have a brother who’s dead and a family now without a father,” Judge Cook told Lee.
Wilson’s widow, Brooklyn Wilson, told the court she didn’t agree with what was happening, but felt that her brother was scared and only agreed to admit to the robbery to “take the quickest thing out of this.”
“They weren’t robbing that man,” she said. “[My husband] didn’t leave the house with a gun. Kenny didn’t leave with a gun.”
Mark Herr, an assistant county prosecutor, said prosecutors were not opposed to community control for Lee, but wanted him to take responsibility for initiating a drug transaction that resulted in his brother-in-law’s death.
“That’s what we’re seeking here more than sending him to prison. Let this awful lesson that he learned also be a lesson learned by folks in the community who go out and engage in this kind of conduct and end up shooting people,” Mr. Herr said. “It’s horrible. It’s happening at an alarming rate where drug deals are going bad and whoever can pull the pistol first usually walks away, but then ends up getting charged.”
Lee asked the court to order him into substance abuse treatment rather than send him to prison.
Judge Cook told him that if he kept his record clean in prison, she would consider releasing him in six months so that he could get the treatment he needs.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.