The sentencing procedure of Ryan Thompson for the murder of Diego Gallaway took less than 20 minutes, but the repercussions will last a lifetime.
That was part of the message Diego’s parents, Ron and Gail Gallaway, of Stockton, imparted in a statement read by Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees during the sentencing Thursday morning in Ellis County District Court.
Ellis County District Judge Blake Bittel sentenced Thompson to 24 years in prison — 272 months for intentional murder-second degree and a consecutive 15-month sentence for a charge of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. He further ordered Thompson to pay more than $13,000 in restitution to the Gallaways to reimburse for funeral expenses.
But the Gallaways, through their statement, expressed concern for a greater cost.
“He leaves behind two little girls, Hallie, 3 years old, and Kamyah, 7 1/2 months at his death,” the statement read. “Our concern is that his death will have a lingering affect on them forever, as they grow up with no daddy! We believe this will require professional counseling when they get older to help them deal with all that has happened.”
They also expressed their grief.
“Death at such a young age is hard to accept but death by a senseless act of murder is even harder to accept! Our thoughts go to his last moments alive and wonder how it was for him and why someone would commit such a brutal act against him, taking him away from our family and his children. He leaves behind 3 brothers, 2 sisters and their families who have also loved him and feel a great loss!”
They said the 24-year sentence is appropriate and hope it sends a message.
“It is our hope that when people see this they realize the importance of the choices that they make, and how permanent those decisions are,” the statement reads.
Thompson did not speak when offered the opportunity for allocution by Bittel.
He pleaded no contest to the charges in September after waiving his right to a preliminary hearing in the Feb. 27 murder. He was originally charged with first-degree murder, possession of meth with intent to distribute and criminal possession of a firearm by a felon. The firearm charge was dropped in the plea agreement.
Thompson received 253 days credit for time served in the Ellis County Jail since his arrest and is eligible for 15% good time credit on the murder charge and 20% good time credit on the drug charge. Upon release, he will have to register as an offender with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation for 15 years on both charges and will be under post-release supervision for 36 months.
His Ellis County sentence will run consecutive to a sentence in Russell County for a December 2018 conviction of aggravated endangerment of a child.
In a September preliminary hearing for Thompson’s co-defendant, Kylie Jo Waldschmidt, investigators laid out the events of Feb. 27, when Thompson and Waldschmidt went to Gallaway’s apartment in the 2700 block of Indian Trail to return a debit card to him.
HPD detective Joshua 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, according to testimony. Burkholder said Thompson said he then got the gun from the car, walked around the front of the vehicle and confronted Gallaway.
In further interviews with investigators, Thompson and Waldschmidt said Thompson grabbed Gallaway from behind in a headlock, and the men struggled. An injury on Gallaway’s right index finger indicated he tried to grab the gun, county coroner Lyle Noordhoek testified.
Gallaway was shot in the lower-right side of his head from behind.
The gun allegedly used in the murder, a silver and black Browning Buck Mark .22-caliber pistol, was entered into evidence in Waldschmidt’s hearing. She is charged with aiding and abetting first-degree murder during the commission of an inherently dangerous felony and interference with a law enforcement officer for falsely reporting information during a homicide investigation. She remains in custody in the Ellis County Jail.
The woman who provided the gun to Thompson, Alysha Meade, was sentenced Monday to 15 months in prison on a conviction of felony possession of methamphetamine. For the misdemeanor charges of criminal distribution of a firearm and interference with a law enforcement officer, she will serve two years probation. As of Thursday morning, she was still in custody in the Ellis County Jail, awaiting transportation to a Department of Corrections facility.