Jones pleads guilty in murder of Baker Student
A Lawrence teenager left court with tears in his eyes Thursday morning, after pleading guilty to felony second-degree murder for his role in a June 7 botched robbery that left two men dead.
As part of a plea deal — in which Kellam D. Jones, 17 — also pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated robbery and attempted aggravated burglary, prosecutors will request Jones be sentenced to 13 years and five months in prison. He’ll be sentenced at 9 a.m. Dec. 19 by Douglas County District Judge Michael Malone.
Prosecutors said Jones, armed with a rifle, fired approximately eight shots and killed Roland Klundt, a 20-year-old Baker University student.
Jones and Gage Hauk, 18, had gone to Klundt’s house, 1311 Del., to rob him of drugs and money, prosecutors said. Klundt shot and killed Hauk, who was armed with an air pistol, to try to stop the early-morning robbery in the east Lawrence neighborhood. Jones then fired at Klundt, hitting him in the neck and face, causing his death, said assistant district attorney Deborah Moody, who prosecuted the case alongside District Attorney Charles Branson.
Jones admitted to a recount of the events during Thursday’s hearing.
“For him to be able to finally confirm that this is in fact what happened, I think does bring a little bit of closure into this for the family members and those involved,” Branson said during an interview after the hearing.
Jones was initially charged as an adult with aggravated robbery and felony first-degree murder in the case and would have faced 20 years to life in prison if convicted of the murder charge. But, Branson said it was possible a jury could have found Jones guilty of lesser charges and that the plea guarantees Jones will “spend a significant amount of time in prison.”
As part of the plea deal, prosecutors said they won’t file charges against Jones for additional charges of robbery and burglary at the house. He also will not be charged for a misdemeanor possession of marijuana charge.
During Thursday’s hearing, Jones was given the opportunity to talk privately with his family. He remained teary-eyed through the rest of the hearing. Friends and family of Jones and Klundt also were present for the plea.
After the hearing, Heather Hein, Klundt’s mother, said she was not satisfied with the suggested sentence.
“I don’t think there really is justice,” a choked-up Hein said. “I really wouldn’t have been satisfied even if he had gotten 20 years. But, at least he’s going to prison.”
The woman said she was proud of her son.
“There’s a lot of people that loved Roland and thought a lot of him,” said Hein. “He was a really good guy. He helped a lot of people in his life and he would’ve helped more.”
Jones, who was 16 at the time of the crime, is being represented by Julia Spainhour, a defense attorney of the Northeast Kansas Conflict Office, and Kip Elliott. Spainhour had no comment while leaving the hearing.