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James Duke Sentenced to Life in Prison for Kody Ray Murder

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. --&nbsp;James Duke was sentenced Friday afternoon to life in prison without parole for the murder of Kody Ray, 18, in 2010.<br>
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- James Duke, 21, was sentenced Friday afternoon to life in prison without parole for the murder of Kody Ray, 18, in 2010.

Duke was convicted last August of the shooting death of the Hillcrest High School student. Jordan Lee Martin was also charged in the case.

Ray's mother Rebecca spoke during Friday's sentencing, as did Duke's mother. When Duke took the stand, he asked Ray's family for forgiveness.

"I wish that I could comfort the family in some way or that I could bring Kody Ray back, but you all know that's impossible," he said.

Ray's sister read a statement from Ray's 10-year-old niece.

"My uncle used to take me to the library, and ride bikes to the park. It makes me sad that I'll never be able to do that again."

Prosecutors say Duke didn't know Ray. Attorney Dee Wampler said in court Duke was under the influence of drugs at the time of the crime.

Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty. Duke received a 30-year (life sentence) for 1st degree Murder and a concurrent 30-year sentence for Armed Criminal Action.

Duke is not eligible for release.

In June 2012, attorneys made their closing arguments to a Greene County judge following a bench trial. Testimony centered on whether the physical evidence showed Ray (right) was shot at close range.

During the trial, the defense pointed out what it called inconsistencies in testimony from the state's pathologist, Dr. Douglas Anderson, from early court proceedings in 2010 to testimony this year.

The defense said that Anderson added information about gunshot residue on Kody Ray, referred to as "soot and stippling" in court, within that two-year period, as well as changing the description of Kody Ray's wounds.

The defense called an expert witness who said he disagreed with the Anderson's interpretation of the evidence.

The defense argued to the judge that this is a case of Second Degree Murder instead of First Degree Murder, saying Duke did not go to Kody Ray's house to kill him and did not shoot him at close range.

Prosecutors said the facts of this case were simple, especially because both doctors agree Kody Ray was shot to death by Duke, who confessed to police.

Greene County Circuit Judge Tom Mountjoy heard Duke's case in the bench trial, meaning Duke waived his right to a jury trial and had the evidence heard by the judge only.

Jordan Martin, who is accused of driving James Duke to Ray's house, is also charged with First Degree Murder and Armed Criminal Action. His court date is pending.

See Also:
May 2012: Kody Ray's Family Frustrated by Second Delay in Duke Trial
February 2012 Report: Judge Grants Continuance of Duke Murder Trial


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