Alex Deaton has pleaded guilty to one count of attempted murder in the first degree and one count of aggravated robbery in connection with a March one shooting and car theft in Pratt at the Kwik Shop.

By Gale Rose

grose@pratttribune.com

Alex Deaton has pleaded guilty to one count of attempted murder in the first degree and guilty to one count of aggravated robbery in connection with a shooting and theft at Kwik Shop in Pratt on March 1.

Deaton waived his right to arraignment on July 7 and entered the guilty pleas in Pratt County District Court to District Court Judge Frank Meisenheimer.

Deaton's plea means there will be no trial in this case. Sentencing is tentatively set for 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 16 in Pratt County District Court.

Meisenheimer read the charges and Deaton responded "Guilty."

Before sentencing, Deaton will undergo a mental health evaluation at Larned State Hospital. Those evaluations are assigned 120 days but since the status of bed space at Larned was unknown, it wasn't certain when the evaluation could start, Meisenheimer said.

A status report by phone among the attorneys, Meisenheimer and Deaton is set for Monday, August 28. If Deaton is at Larned at this time, the status report will take place without him.

As part of the plea agreement, Count Three: Theft; and Count Four: Fleeing and alluding; have both been dismissed. Also as part of the plea agreement, there will be a mid-range sentencing and the terms will serve concurrently but Meisenheimer reminded Deaton that he has the final decision on those matters in this case.

A guilty plea for attempted murder in the first degree carries sentencing range from 653 months to 147 months. A guilty plea for aggravated robbery carries a sentencing range from 247 months to 55 months. Deaton's criminal history will help determine how long the judge will sentence him.

Before accepting Deaton's guilty plea, Meisenheimer read Deaton his rights and reminded him that he would be giving up the right to a trial where the prosecution would have the burden to prove that he was guilty and that he would give up his right to appeal the convictions.

Meisenheimer advised Deaton that he would find him guilty if he waived those rights. Deaton agreed and said he was guilty of those crimes.

As a convicted felon, Deaton cannot possess a firearm and has to register under the Kansas Offender Act.

Assistant Attorney General Jessica Domme read a summary of the events in the case.

On Wednesday, March 1, Deaton was pulled over for a traffic violation in Kiowa County. During that stop, Kiowa County Sheriff Deputy Finch discovered the white Honda was listed as stolen from New Mexico.

Deaton fled the scene and Finch gave pursuit into Pratt County where he was assisted by officers from the Pratt County Sheriff's Office and the Pratt Police Department. Officers lost Deaton in the city of Pratt. While they were looking for Deaton, they received a call of a shooting at Kwik Shop at First Street and Washington.

Deaton entered the Quick Shop, demanded car keys from the clerk, Riley Juel. Juel gave Deaton the keys then shot Juel in the stomach. Deaton took Juel's Cadillac CTS and left the county.

Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Ian Gray spotted Deaton in the stolen vehicle at 8:15 a.m. and he was captured with the gun used in the crime in the CTS, Domme said.

In the process of stopping Deaton, the car rolled and caught fire. He was removed from the vehicle safely but the vehicle was destroyed.

Deaton was returned to Pratt and is currently in the Pratt County Jail on a $5 million bond and is being held for Mississippi where he is a suspect in a double homicide.

@GaleR_Tribune