An almost two-year-old murder case came to an end on Wednesday. Randy H. Durham appeared before Circuit Court Judge Don Ash for what was supposed to be the first day of a three-day-long jury trial. But instead, Assistant District Attorney David Puckett and Durham's attorney, Guy Dotson, Sr., announced the case had been resolved.
Puckett told the Court that, in exchange for Durham's guilty plea to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, he would be sentenced to four years in prison as a Range 1, 30 percent offender. Puckett then said Durham's sentence would be suspended after he served 1 year in the Cannon County Jail with the rest of the sentence being served on State Supervised Probation.
Prior to accepting Durham's plea, Judge Ash heard from the victim, Ronnie Baxter's, family. Several relatives expressed their displeasure with the plea agreement, stating that they did not feel it was enough jail time. However, some family members shared their desire for closure and an end to the case. Judge Ash then reluctantly accepted Durham's plea.
In his statement of facts, Puckett told the Court that the entire incident was over a $450.00 headlight. Puckett said Durham and Baxter's children got into an altercation at Sonic in front of a large group of their classmates over an accident which had happened earlier in the day on November 14, 2008.
After the group was asked to leave Sonic by management, they all met at a home on Hollow Springs Road to fight. Randy Durham and Ronnie Baxter both went to the location with their children. The parents then got into a fight after which Baxter got up and began to walk across the street. Durham then fired at Baxter and two bullets hit him in the side and back. He later died as a result of his injuries.
Ash then sentenced Durham as announced. He had requested that he be given until August to report to jail, but Ash refused and ordered him into custody immediately. Durham is now serving his year at the Cannon County Jail.