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Man pleads guilty to voluntary manslaughter in wife's shooting death

Christopher Thomas Jones entered his plea Thursday during an unscheduled proceeding

January 07, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxannmiller@comcast.net

With his trial scheduled for next month, Christopher Thomas Jones has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of his 27-year-old wife in the couple's St. Thomas Township, Pa., home.

The plea in the Feb. 25, 2010, shooting death of Kristin Runyon came during an unscheduled proceeding Thursday.

Jones' defense attorney, David Keller, was not available for comment Friday, and Keller's office staff would not discuss what prompted Jones, now of Spring Run, Pa., to enter the guilty plea.

Franklin County District Attorney Matthew Fogal declined comment Friday.

The case was assigned to Assistant District Attorney Lauren Sulcove, who did not return a message left at the county District Attorney's Office on Friday.

Jones, who was scheduled to stand trial on Feb. 17, has been free on $50,000 bond since March.

Judge Shawn Meyers is scheduled to sentence Jones, 31, on March 3, at 1:30 p.m.

The judge ordered the Franklin County Probation Department to prepare a presentence investigation, according to online documents from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

Voluntary manslaughter is a first-degree felony that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Involuntary manslaughter is a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a $10,000 fine, according to the Pennsylvania Crimes Code.

Pennsylvania State Police initially charged Jones with both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Kristin Runyon in the couple's home on Sunflower Circle in St. Thomas Township in the early hours of Feb. 25.

In an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case, police wrote that Jones called 911 at about 5 a.m. on Feb. 25 to seek emergency help for Runyon.

They wrote that Jones told investigators he awoke after hitting "snooze" twice on an alarm clock, then heard noises on the first floor as he was getting up.

Jones told police he removed a .40-caliber pistol from a bedside table and moved to the bedroom door, where he saw a human figure "running toward him" in the dark hallway, the affidavit said.

Jones fired at the person he said he believed to be an intruder from 2 to 4 feet away and heard the person fall to the floor, the affidavit said. When he turned on the bedroom light, he saw the person he shot was his wife, and he called 911, police said in the affidavit.

Runyon was found dead in her home at about 5:30 a.m. Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner had said she died from a single gunshot wound to the right chest.

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