KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A man accused of shooting and killing a 4-year-old Kansas City boy has pleaded guilty Friday.

Ryson Ellis was originally charged with second-degree murder, two counts of armed criminal action, and unlawful use of a weapon in the 2020 shooting death of 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro.

On Friday, he pleaded guilty to three of the four charges, but one count of armed criminal action was dropped.

Prior to the plea, Ellis was set to go to trial on Dec. 12. The trial had already been delayed earlier this summer.

Ryson Ellis mugshot

Instead, Ellis will now head to prison. The judge sentenced him to 22 years for unlawful use of a weapon, 20 years for the murder charge and 3 years for armed criminal action. The sentences will run concurrently, so Ellis’ sentence is 22 years. He will receive credit for time already served and has a possibility for parole.

Prosecutors said a bullet Ellis shot flew into an apartment at the Citadel Apartments at East 63rd Street and The Paseo and hit LeGend as he slept in his bed.

Investigators believe Ellis was mad at Taliferro’s family and shot into the apartment where they lived, court records said. LeGend was not the target of the shooting, but he died from his injuries.

Officers arrested Ellis about six weeks after Taliferro’s death.

Family reaction

LeGend’s family attended the plea hearing Friday, sharing a range of emotions about the plea. The little boy would have turned 7 in January.

“That’s something God gotta do. God got to forgive him,” Raphael Taliferro, the boy’s father, said. “God got to forgive him. That ain’t what I am. I’m a human being that ain’t what I’m doing. I’m not giving forgiveness to nobody.”

But Charron Powell, the boy’s mother, said the guilty plea means something.

“This means a lot because watching him take accountability for the action, it put us a little at ease that he’s being held accountable and he also agreed that he’s holding himself accountable,” she said.

Powell said her son’s death wasn’t in vain. It led to a U.S. Justice Department operation that led to multiple arrests and helped local families.

“It was a lot of situation or crimes that were solved because I had many people that came to me and said we got justice for our family member,” Powell said.

Her message to the community now is don’t act out on anger.

“This was a situation where somebody was angry, and they acted on their anger,” Powell said. “So we as a community and for LeGend’s legacy, I want to help others learn how to control their anger so they won’t make a mistake like this.”