A Washington state teenager changed his plea to guilty on Wednesday in the murder of a World War Two veteran he beat up with an accomplice in 2013 during what he said was a drug deal, Spokane area media reported.
Kenan Adams-Kinard, 17, pleaded guilty in Spokane County Superior Court to first-degree murder in the death of 88-year-old Delbert “Shorty” Belton, as a part of a deal in which robbery charges against him would be dropped. He could serve between 20 and 27 years in jail on sentencing, according to media reports.
Belton, who had survived a gunshot wound to the leg during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, died a day after being beaten up in August 2013 by Adams-Kinard and his accused accomplice, Demetrius Glenn, both 16 at the time, outside a Spokane area fraternal lodge.
In a police affidavit paraphrasing a witness account, Adams-Kinard said he “was trying to buy an ounce of crack cocaine from ‘Shorty’ and ‘Shorty’ tried ripping him off.” Adams-Kinard said he then punched Belton and took his money back.
NBC News last year quoted a police spokesman as saying there was “no evidence to support” the allegation that Belton was dealing drugs.
The two teenagers were charged with first-degree murder in Belton’s death, and first-degree robbery and first-degree conspiracy to commit robbery, but both initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, the Spokesman-Review newspaper reported.
Glenn, whose trial is slated to begin on Jan. 12, has not changed his plea, media said.
The affidavit said police also seized a handwritten letter that Adams-Kinard allegedly wrote to his mother in which he also said the crime was a drug deal gone sour.
“I took his wallet and another ounce of crack from his pockets. He was unconscious, so I made sure he was still breathing, and then I took off,” the affidavit quoted the letter as saying.