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

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Alex Rose arose@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @arosedelco on Twit­ter

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

de­tec­tives sug­gested.

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.

Ron­ald My­ers

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