In a plea bargain Monday morning, Ryan P. Thompson was found guilty in Ellis County District Court of second-degree murder in the Feb. 27 shooting death of 26-year-old Diego Gallaway.
Thompson waived his right to a preliminary hearing and pleaded no contest to both the murder charge — amended from first-degree murder — and a charge of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.
A third charge of criminal possession of a firearm by a felon was dropped in the plea.
Thompson remains in custody in the Ellis County Jail. Sentencing is to be scheduled. With Thompson’s known criminal history, his sentences are expected to be 272 months in prison for the murder charge and 15 months for the possession charge, Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees said after the hearing. Drees will recommend the sentences be served consecutively for a total of 287 months in prison, or just under 24 years.
Also Monday, a woman accused of aiding Thompson and lying to police during the investigation appeared for her preliminary hearing.
Kylie Jo Waldschmidt faces charges of aiding and abetting a felony murder with an alternate charge of felony aggravated assault or aggravated battery. She is also charged with interference with a law enforcement officer for falsely reporting information during a homicide investigation.
Waldschmidt, 24, is in custody in the Ellis County Jail.
A silver and black Browning Buck Mark .22 caliber pistol was entered into evidence for the preliminary hearing. Alysha K. Meade, 29, identified the pistol as the one she gave to Thompson less than an hour before the murder.
Meade pleaded no contest in September to criminal distribution of a firearm to a felon for providing Thompson with the gun. She also pleaded to charges of interference with a law enforcement officer and felony possession of methamphetamine and misdemeanor possession of marijuana.
Meade remains in custody of the Ellis County Jail, awaiting sentencing.
In Waldschmidt’s hearing, Drees presented evidence including the Browning allegedly used in the murder, which law enforcement officers on the scene testified had been found close to Gallaway’s body near a storage shed in the parking lot behind a business in the 1500 block of East 27th the night of Feb. 27.
Gallaway’s apartment was just across the alley, and it was there that investigating officers first spoke to Waldschmidt, who had called 911.
Hays Police Department Detective Joshua Burkholder testified Waldschmidt changed her story several times from the initial interview in the apartment.
At first, he said, she reported Gallaway — her ex-boyfriend with whom she has two children — had come after her and Thompson in the parking lot. They had gone to his apartment to return a bank card.
Burkholder said at first Waldschmidt told police she did not see the shooting and at one point claimed Gallaway first had the gun and the two men wrestled.
The detective said Thompson had also initially told police Gallaway had the gun, and they wrestled, both holding onto the gun when it went off.
An autopsy showed Gallaway had been placed in a headlock from behind and shot in the head.
When confronted with evidence at a March 11 interview at Larned State Hospital, Thompson changed his story, Burkholder said.
Burkholder testified Thompson said the couple had planned to go to Gallaway’s apartment and Waldschmidt would slide the bank card under his door, but when they arrived, the plan changed.
Thompson called Gallaway and told him to come to the car in the parking lot across the alley. Gallaway went to the passenger side of the car, where Waldschmidt was sitting, and began shouting at her. Burkholder said Thompson said he got the gun from the car, walked around the front of the vehicle and confronted Gallaway. They struggled and the gun went off.
Burholder said in his third and final interview with Waldschmidt, she said she saw Thompson had the gun in his hand as he walked in front of the car, then put Gallaway in a headlock. Gallaway struggled to get out of Thompson’s hold, then Thompson shot him.
Burkholder also testified the police department obtained search warrants for the Facebook accounts of Gallaway, Waldschmidt and Thompson, and described conversations on the social media site between Thompson and Waldschmidt in which they said Gallaway “needed to get beat up” or “get his ass kicked.”
The conversations also included references to a “back-up plan” and a third person, but Burkholder said he was never able to ascertain what that plan was, nor was he able to make contact with the third person mentioned in those conversations.
This is a developing story. Watch for updates at HDNews.net.