PITTSBURG — The last defendant in the Taylor Thomas murder case was sentenced to prison in Crawford County District Court Friday morning.
Tyler D. Smith, 27, was sentenced to 28 months in prison on two counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, 24 months of post-release supervision and ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution. The restitution is joint and several with the other defendants in the case.
The other defendants in the 2014 slaying of Pittsburg State University student Taylor Thomas were Darius Rainey, Corbin Spragg, Bryan Bridges and Juan Salas-Rueda.
Smith, along with Spragg, helped plan the robbery which ended in the shooting death of Thomas.
Rainey and Bridges were both sentenced on charges of first degree murder to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years. Spragg pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of second degree murder and one count of aggravated kidnapping and was sentenced to a total of 330 months in prison.
Salas-Rueda was sentenced to 61 months in prison on charges of aggravated robbery and faces deportation to Mexico on his release.
Spragg testified earlier this year that Smith, his cousin had originally come to Spragg looking for someone to rob because Smith was broke and needed money.
Spragg said that he suggested Joseph Otter, whom he knew as a fellow marijuana dealer, to Smith and they then contacted Rainey to enlist him in the plan.
He said he, Smith and Rainey drove around town smoking marijuana until Rainey had to go to work at McDonalds. Spragg then testified that he and Smith continued to drive around Pittsburg, smoking pot and Spragg made some pot sales.
Late the evening of Oct. 8, Spragg said Smith decided he was tired and did not want to participate in the robbery and so Spragg enlisted Bridges to take his place.
After allegedly picking up Rainey and Bridges and retrieving a pair of firearms — a shotgun and a .40 caliber handgun — from Juan Salas-Rueda, and donning a trio of masks purchased earlier at Wal-Mart, they used what Spragg described as a “battering ram” to break down the back door of Otter’s house.
Otter testified at a hearing that he and his girlfriend were awake and preparing to watch a movie when they heard the back door broken in. Having been robbed before, Otter said he opened the front door and he and his girlfriend fled across the street.
The robbery ended with the death of Thomas after he was shot by Bridges.
Otter was sentenced to 60 months in prison in October of last year, for possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.
— Patrick Richardson is the managing editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @PittEditor.