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Man pleads guilty in theft of bronze Jackie Robinson statue from Kansas park


WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 45-year-old man has pleaded guilty in the theft of a bronze Jackie Robinson statue that was cut off at the ankles and found days later smoldering in a trash can in a city park in Kansas.

Ricky Alderete entered the plea during his arraignment Thursday. A judge signed off on it Friday.

Authorities arrested him in February, with court records alleging he entered a Wichita home with the intent to kidnap someone as part of an effort to interfere with law enforcement.

He then was charged later that month with felony theft and aggravated criminal damage to property in the statue theft, along with two other counts. Police said there was no evidence it was a hate-motivated crime. Rather, the intent was to sell the metal for scrap, police said.

The bronze statue was cut from its base in January at a park in Wichita, Kansas. Only the statue’s feet were left at McAdams Park, where about 600 children play in a youth baseball league called League 42. It is named after Robinson’ s uniform number with the Brooklyn Dodgers, with whom he broke the major leagues’ color barrier in 1947.

Fire crews found burned remnants of the statue five days later while responding to a trash can fire at another park about 7 miles (11.27 kilometers) away.

Alderete had a criminal record that includes burglary and theft, state correction department records show. His sentencing in the latest case is set for July 1.

Donations poured in after the theft, approaching $300,000, and work is underway to replace it.

Robinson played for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues before joining the Brooklyn Dodgers, paving the way for generations of Black American ballplayers. He is considered not only a sports legend but also a civil rights icon. Robinson died in 1972.