A Beatty man who killed his rural neighbor and attempted to hide the body will spend six years in prison for criminally negligent homicide and first-degree burglary convictions.
Originally charged with murder, Richard Bryon Johnson, 55, pleaded guilty June 4 to the negotiated Class A and B felony charges.
Klamath County Circuit Judge Roxanne Osborne sentenced him to 72 months total prison-time.
Johnson was arrested January 2018 for shooting Benito Devila Sanchez, 49, at his home with a .45 handgun.
Sanchez was reported missing by his roommate after he found blood on his porch and driveway. Law enforcement discovered Sanchez’s remains in a remote area miles from Sanchez’s home.
In an email, Klamath County District Attorney Eve Costello said Johnson shot Davila during an argument when Johnson believed Davila was attacking him. Costello said state and defense investigation including statements from mutual friends of both parties supported criminally negligent homicide — when “a person fails to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk” — as an accurate portrayal of the incident.
Costello said Johnson’s burglary charge stemmed from Johnson entering Sanchez’s home and tampering with evidence after Johnson killed him.
Johnson’s other charges from the incident of unlawful use of a weapon, three counts tampering with physical evidence and unlawful possession of a marijuana item were dismissed.
He will be eligible for early release with good time, but not for alternative incarceration or additional programs. Johnson must also pay a $4,255 restitution fee and will be on post-prison supervision for 36 months when he gets out.
Costello said Sanchez’s sister accepted the case resolution.
“Nothing the State can do will fix the loss she has suffered,” Costello said. “The Klamath County District Attorney’s office expresses our sincere condolences.”
On June 7, Johnson submitted a letter to the court indicating he wants to appeal the sentence. In the letter, Johnson said he was misled by his court-appointed attorney Scott Carter and forced to enter a plea agreement he now regrets.
Johnson claims Carter did not follow through with Johnson’s requests to speak with a psychiatrist and complete more evidence discovery from the crime scene.
“Scott Carter is a good salesman,” Bryon wrote. “He flat used those skills to get me to sign this deal.”