Archive for Sunday, July 11, 2004

8-year sentence ordered in shooting after fight

Prosecutor says drug deals at root of crime

July 11, 2004

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— The second of three men charged with the death of a Great Bend man last year was sentenced Friday to 8 1/2 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

Richard T. Ruffus, 30, of Larned, was convicted in April for the May 9, 2003, shooting death of Jesse James Bittner, 23. Ruffus had earlier been charged with first-degree murder.

Barton County District Judge Hannelore Kitts also sentenced Ruffus on Friday to four years and 11 months in prison for kidnapping Bittner's brother, Armando Diego Cano, 16, and six months for battering Cano. Both sentences will run concurrently with the manslaughter charge, officials said.

Ruffus still faces a parole violation charge from a drug conviction in Ellis County, said Assistant Barton County Atty. Doug Matthews.

"I think that overall, we're satisfied with the sentence," Matthews said.

Ruffus shot Bittner after a fight in which Bittner shot two of Ruffus' companions, Gregory D. Washington and Melvin Bryant "over a string of drug deals gone bad," Matthews said.

Washington has been sentenced to nine years in prison for voluntary manslaughter, burglary and criminal possession of a firearm. Bryant is scheduled to stand trial next month.

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