Man gets prison in Palomino case

The 32-year-old man found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the killing of a former strip club employee was sentenced Thursday to 8 to 20 years in prison.

Kenneth Counts was convicted in February. A jury, found him not guilty of murder with a deadly weapon.

Counts was one of several defendants charged in connection with the killing of Timothy Hadland, who was shot and killed March 19, 2005.

Authorities said Hadland was killed because he cost the Palomino Club revenue by talking badly about it to cabdrivers.

Counts, a father of four, asked the judge to be released from jail so he could be with his family. But the judge gave him a longer prison term because Counts, who prosecutors said has prior felony convictions out of California, is considered a habitual criminal.

Counts’ aunt, Kendalle Virgil, said Counts was convicted only of minor offenses in California and was never a violent offender. She said that since the jury acquitted him of the more serious charge, he should be released because he already has spent more than 1,000 days in jail.

“He was found innocent (of murder). They should let him go,” she said.

In February, authorities arrested the former owner of the Palomino Club, Luis Hidalgo Jr., and charged him in Hadland’s killing. Hidalgo’s son, Luis Hidalgo III, also is facing murder charges in Hadland’s slaying.

Several other suspects in the killing have pleaded guilty to lesser charges or have had their case stayed by the Supreme Court.

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