District Judge Glenn Braun accepted a no contest plea Friday in connection with a late April altercation that left an Arizona man dead and another in jail.
After asking a series of questions of Truman T. Begay, 22, Blue Gap, Ariz., Braun agreed to accept the no contest plea and found Begay guilty of voluntary manslaughter.
The reduced charge was part of a plea agreement reached Friday morning.
In return for his plea, Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees agreed to file the amended charge of voluntary manslaughter. Begay had been facing a charge of second-degree murder in connection with the death of Edmund M. Benally, 33, Winslow, Ariz. Both men were staying in Hays while working on the rebar crew at the Buckeye Wind Farm north of Hays.
Benally was found lying in the parking lot at America’s Best Value Inn, 2524 Vine, during the early morning hours of April 19. He was taken to Hays Medical Center before being airlifted to a Wichita hospital, dying several days later.
His death was determined to be a result of traumatic head and brain injuries.
Benally and Begay are related, and members of both families were in Ellis County District Court for the hearing.
Attorneys had separately spent nearly an hour with family members discussing the plea agreement before court convened.
At the outset of the hearing, originally scheduled to conduct a preliminary hearing for Begay, Braun asked if he was willing to waive the hearing and proceed directly to arraignment.
Speaking softly, Begay said he was.
He then entered a plea of no contest to the reduced charge.
After accepting the plea and finding Begay guilty, Braun said sentencing likely would be conducted in September, although no date was set.
Begay’s sentencing was included in the plea agreement.
“The parties have agreed to a mutual request for a downward durational departure from the standard sentence of 59 months to 40 months of imprisonment,” the plea agreement states.
It went on to say the defendant will not seek probation and “will agree to serve the 40 months of imprisonment with the Kansas secretary of corrections.”