Man faces state prison for shooting death
Ronald Myers of Chester to spend 14 to 28 years in state prison for his role in drug deal turned deadly
A man who admitted to the shooting death of a West Chester man has been sentenced to state prison.
MEDIA COURTHOUSE >> A Chester man who admitted his role in the July 2015 shooting death of 27-yearold Joseph Torres has been sentenced to 14 to 28 years in a state prison.
Ronald Myers, 23, entered an open guilty plea in September to charges of third-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance. He testified against gunman Leyron D. Johns at trial in October.
Johns, 20, of the 800 block of West Fifth Street in Chester, was convicted on charges of first-degree murder, robbery and possession of an instrument of crime. He is scheduled for sentencing Dec. 5 before Judge Gregory Mallon.
Myers testified at trial that Johns set up a meeting to sell Torres, a West Chester resident, pills of Percocet at Ninth and Kerlin streets on the evening of July 27, 2015.
Myers said the trio went behind Mano’s Gulf station, where Torres showed him a picture of the pills he was seeking on his phone. Myers said he had a bottle of pills Johns had given him, but he never looked at them. Torres also showed the picture to Johns, according to Myers.
“Next thing I know, Leyron pulls the gun out,” said Myers. “He has it to the back of (Torres’) head. Torres is moving, I tells him if he got anything to give it up and Leyron shoots him.”
Video surveillance played for the jury showed Johns shooting Torres once in the head. It also showed Myers pushing Torres and refusing to let the other man leave after Johns pulled out the gun.
Myers said at trial that he drove Torres’ truck to an alley at Second and Union streets then walked to Fifth Street with Johns, where they parted ways.
Delaware County Detective Adam Sendak told Mallon
at an initial sentencing hearing Oct. 18 that Myers’ cooperation was a lynchpin for the case and any leniency shown him by the court could only help bring in additional witnesses reluctant to help police solve murders in Chester.
“Without the cooperation of Mr. Myers, I don’t know that we could have brought a successful prosecution
against Mr. Johns,” said Chester Detective Patrick Mullen.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Michael McDevitt did not provide a recommendation for a sentence, as per the plea deal, but did agree Myers’ assistance in the case was “indispensible.” He noted video surveillance from one business in the area was choppy and video from a second likely would not have convinced a jury of Johns’ guilt.
But Torres mother also took the stand at sentencing and questioned why Myers did not simply let her son go when the gun was produced.
“It didn’t have to come down to that,” she said. “You had a choice. You had a choice to stop it from happening. It could have been so different, and he chose to push him, shove him twice,
not stop his friend from shooting him. For what?”
Mallon also questioned Myers on that point, arguing he should have punched Johns in the mouth and run off. Myers said he was afraid that if he ran, he would have become Johns’ target.
“He had the gun and I was scared,” Myers said. “I did what I did out of fear. I could have been the one laying on the ground as well.”
Mallon also read aloud in court a letter from Torres’ 25-year-old widow.
“I wake up to see my daughter’s smiling face and I’m reminded that I am left to raise her alone,” the woman said in the letter. “It hurts me so much emotionally to know that she will never see her father again, and she did not make that choice.”
Myers apologized to Torres’ loved ones, saying he
needs rehabilitation but takes responsibility for his actions.
“I’m not a bad person, I just made bad mistakes in my life and they caused me to get to where I’m at right now,” he said.
Defense attorney Taylor Dunn said Mallon’s sentence should send the message that Myers is being punished for his actions, but also that there is a tangible benefit for stepping up and doing the right thing in such cases.
Mullen was recalled Nov. 22 and again indicated that a lenient sentence, in light of the situation, could help draw in more witnesses for other unsolved crimes.
Mallon said he originally planned to sentence Myers to at least 29 years, but agreed a lengthy sentence would likely not help others come forward as the
Still, the judge said he would not be going into the mitigated range, as Myers did not confess until contacted by police months after the fact and it is still a murder case.
Torres’ mother said she just wants justice for her son.
“I owe Joe Torres this,” said Mallon. “I owe Joe’s mom this. I owe society this. People have to understand that when you participate in a crime where someone gets killed like this, you just can’t get what some would deem ‘a light sentence.’ … It’s a death. Joe Torres will not come back and you will, in due time.”
In addition to prison time, Myers was ordered to serve 12 years of consecutive probation and provide a DNA sample to state police.