Lawrence man pleads guilty to voluntary manslaughter in shooting death of his girlfriend

photo by: Dylan Lysen/Lawrence Journal-World

Johnathon L. West, left, appears in Douglas County District Court with his attorney, Hatem Chahine, on Thursday, May 13, 2021. West pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter through a plea agreement for the killing of his girlfriend, Jennifer Mosby.

A Lawrence man was convicted Thursday in Douglas County District Court of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of his girlfriend.

Johnathon L. West, 43, pleaded guilty to the felony charge, which was downgraded from second-degree murder through the agreement.

The original murder charge stemmed from the killing of Lawrence resident Jennifer Mosby, 41, who was found dead at her home in January. Mosby had been shot twice, once in the back of her head and once in the back of her neck, Chief Assistant District Attorney Eve Kemple said.

Kemple said Mosby’s family had signed off on the plea agreement. West is scheduled to be sentenced on June 16.

West agreed with the prosecution’s suggestion of 221 months in prison, which is a little more than 18 years, and to register on the violent offenders list for 15 years.

Before convicting him, Judge Stacey Donovan told West during the hearing that she could sentence him to a prison sentence longer than what the agreement had laid out. She noted that West’s criminal history suggested a 221- to 247-month prison sentence, or about 18-20.5 years.

According to court records, West had previously been convicted of several drug offenses.

Kemple said West had told police that he was dating Mosby and they were celebrating her birthday on the night of the incident. To celebrate, they consumed marijuana laced with PCP, a drug that can cause hallucinations.

While West and Mosby were watching a movie “about sacrifices,” West told police he thought Mosby’s brain was telling his brain to sacrifice her. He said he blacked out, but he regained consciousness after hearing a “pow” sound from a gun. He then saw Mosby’s body but didn’t know if what he was seeing was real.

He then left Lawrence for Topeka, where police responded to a call of domestic violence between West and an ex-girlfriend. During the encounter, West told the police he believed he may have shot Mosby. The next day, Lawrence police found Mosby’s body at her home.

West told the court on Thursday that he is now on medications for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, which stems from previous traumatic events in his life. He said the medications are helping him with the depression and he wishes he would have been taking them in the past rather than mind-altering drugs like PCP.

He said his depression also stemmed from Mosby’s death, adding that he missed her.

“She was taken from me too, and I didn’t realize it,” he said.

Related coverage:

• Jan. 28, 2021: Homicide reported in Lawrence; suspect in custody, police say

• Feb. 2, 2021: Slain Lawrence woman was mother of 5, animal lover; police, prosecutors provide no new information

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