JONESBORO — One of three defendants in a murder trial pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon to voluntary manslaughter, taking responsibility for firing a gun the night a barber was shot and killed.
In the middle of the four-day trial, Kenneth “KD” Todd Gresham, 29, of Conley pleaded guilty to his role in the April 2012 death of John “Dred” Goodrum. He was immediately sentenced to 20 years in prison. It took attorneys two full days to pick a jury, giving the case six days in court before Gresham changed his plea to guilty. The reversal happened after the state rested and the defense was about to present its case to jurors.
Clayton County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Katie Powers said she consulted with Goodrum’s family before the plea.
“The family chose to accept the plea and we deferred to their decision,” she said. “We hope with the guilty plea, with Kenneth Todd Gresham accepting responsibility for the shooting, that it can bring closure to this family.”
In changing his plea, Gresham took full responsibility for Goodrum’s death, exonerating his half-brother, Kenneth Lamar Gresham, 27, of Atlanta and their cousin, Mashawn Anthonio Gresham, 28, of Riverdale. The two were immediately released from Clayton County Jail where they have been locked up since last year.
Mashawn Gresham’s mother, Valerie Gresham, said KD is more like her son than nephew and his imprisonment will be hard on the family. She said he was worried about how the family would accept his guilty plea.
“He wrote us a letter of his decision and asked us to continue to love him and we will,” she said. “We’re not mad at his decision. He’s a very godly person.”
Valerie Gresham said she is glad her son is being released but would have liked to have all three men come home.
“It’s still a loss,” she said. “It’s a loss for our family and a loss for the Goodrum family. Our hearts go out to the Goodrum family.”
Another aunt, Dorcas Gresham, flatly denied any of her nephews were involved.
“They didn’t do this,” she said. “My son was shot that night, too, about 30 minutes later. He was shot at KD’s house, right in the mouth.”
She also said a second young man was shot within minutes of her son’s shooting and no one was arrested in either incident. Both survived.
The family objected to the way they were portrayed by witnesses in the case, who testified they feared Gresham supporters. One witness hired a bodyguard to accompany her to court.
“We didn’t threaten anyone,” said Dorcas Gresham. “Our family did not make threats.”
“And none of those boys are in a gang,” Valerie Gresham interjected. “We’re a very close family.”
Prosecutors said KD had a long-term beef with Keyon Butler, one that erupted at a birthday party. Each man had a gun and fired at the other, said police. Butler was shot in the hand. Goodrum, a barber who’d spent the entire party inside the house cutting hair, had just stepped outside to get a plate of chicken when he was caught in the crossfire.
Because the bullet exited his body, police were unable to link it to a firearm to proof who shot him in the back.
Kenneth Lamar Gresham’s attorney, Gerald Griggs, spoke to jurors after the plea. He said they were leaning toward acquittal for his client and Mashawn Gresham, and conviction of voluntary manslaughter for KD. He said he is satisfied with the outcome.
“I think it was the right outcome,” he said. “Kenneth Lamar Gresham and Mashawn Gresham had nothing to do with this. KD took responsibility for what happened. At the end of the day, the right thing happened.”