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Man who killed BR police officer takes plea deal, avoids death penalty in 2020 shooting spree

3 weeks 23 hours 14 minutes ago Wednesday, November 16 2022 Nov 16, 2022 November 16, 2022 6:50 PM November 16, 2022 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - A man charged with killing two people in Baton Rouge back in 2020, including a police officer, took a plea deal Wednesday that will allow him to avoid the death penalty. 

Ronnie Kato pleaded guilty to charges of manslaughter, attempted first-degree murder and first-degree murder on Wednesday. Prosecutors say Kato, who potentially faced execution,  will get a life sentence as part of the plea agreement.

In a statement Wednesday, District Attorney Hillar Moore said the agreement would allow prosecutors to spare the families of the victims from a long and traumatizing trial, which would have meant the release of disturbing body camera video showing the murder of one of those victims, BRPD Sgt. Glenn Hutto.

"The death penalty would have been an appropriate verdict for this defendant but it would have traumatized and killed these families especially the Hutto family," DA Hillar Moore wrote. "Today's plea spares them from the grueling pain of having to see this father of four, husband, proud son, brother and friend die in front of them and the public captured on body camera and police radio."

Kato was arrested in April 2020 after a shooting spree that started with the killing of his girlfriend's stepfather, Curtis Richardson. Investigators said Richardson was shot when Kato used a rifle to shoot up his then-girlfriend's house following an argument. 

When police arrived at the neighborhood to investigate, Kato opened fire, striking two police officers. One of those officers, Sgt. Hutto, was killed at the scene. 

Arrest documents said the killing was not Kato's first violent run-in with police. In 2017, police were called to another domestic dispute involving Kato and his girlfriend where a drunken Kato threatened to "Gavin Long" any officers who intervened, referencing a deadly police ambush that happened in Baton Rouge just a year earlier.

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