A Manhattan man has been sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder, while his mother has pleaded no contest to aiding him after the fact and other charges.
James McKenith, 33, was sentenced Monday afternoon in Riley County District Court for the murder of John Burroughs Jr., 68, of Manhattan, in September of 2013. McKenith pleaded no contest to the charge on March 19.
“He will have to serve a minimum of 20 years before he’s eligible for parole,” Riley County Attorney Barry Wilkerson said Monday in a phone interview. “Then, it’s up to the parole board.”
McKenith’s mother, Christina Love, 50, of Manhattan, appeared in court at the same time as her son.
District Judge Meryl Wilson found Love guilty of two counts of aiding a felon after the fact and two counts of interference with a law enforcement investigation. Wilson scheduled Love to be sentenced at 3:30 p.m. on June 16.
Love originally was charged with aiding McKenith in Burroughs’ murder.
Deputy Riley County Attorney Barry Disney said prosecutors amended the charges because they didn’t believe they had sufficient evidence to show Love knew the murder was going to happen.
“The whole question in the investigation comes down to, did she know the murder was going to be committed, or did she simply help out after the murder had been committed?” Disney said in a phone interview.
Disney said the evidence collected suggests Love drove McKenith to Burroughs’ trailer at Redbud Estates on Sept. 6, 2013, after having driven another man, Anthony Nichols, 33, of Kansas City, Kan., to Burroughs’ home earlier that day.
Nichols is accused of shooting but failing to kill Burroughs while Love stayed outside. Nichols also faces charges in Geary County District Court for robbing and shooting to death another man, Anthony Nixon, 37, of Junction City, later that night.
Wilkerson said a preliminary hearing for Nichols’ Riley County case is expected to be scheduled in court on Tuesday.
As for Love, Disney said investigators determined she drove Nichols to Burroughs’ home, but stayed outside and heard a gunshot. After driving Nichols away, Love went home and told her son that Nichols may have killed Burroughs.
McKenith then told his mother they needed to see if Burroughs was still alive. Again, Love stayed outside, Disney said, and didn’t know her son was going to stab and kill Burroughs.
“By all accounts, Love did not know that he was going to do that,” Disney said, adding that McKenith used a knife inside Burroughs’ trailer.
Disney also said no evidence shows Love knew Nichols was going to shoot Burroughs.
However, driving Nichols away from the trailer and later doing the same for McKenith to help him get rid of the knife resulted in the two charges of aiding a felon after the fact.
Love’s two counts of interference stemmed from her lying to investigators about being with Nichols and lying about not knowing what had happened after McKenith had stabbed Burroughs.