May 21, 2024
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Ezekial Ricoy, convicted of the 2022 murder of his stepson, Branden Kern, at a home south of Deming, was sentenced on May 3 to life in prison plus nine years, according to a press release issued by Sixth Judicial District Attorney Michael R. Renteria. The sentence was handed down by District Court Judge Jennifer DeLaney, who also ordered that the life sentence start after the nine years is served. According to the press release, Ricoy must serve 85% of the nine-year sentence before starting the life sentence, and a life sentence in New Mexico means eligibility for parole after serving 30 years.

Ricoy was convicted of first degree murder and related charges by a Luna County jury on March 28, 2024. Ricoy killed Kern when Kern and his wife, Emili Jones, went to the home of Ricoy and Kern’s mother, Kelly Kern, to retrieve an ice chest. Ricoy came out of the house yelling at the couple, saying he told them not to be on his property. He shot an AR-15 at the couple’s car, in which their children and a friend were sitting. After Kern told Ricoy they were leaving, Ricoy shot and killed Kern with the rifle.

After the court heard emotional statements from Kern family members, including and Kern’s nine year old stepson, Chief Deputy District Attorney Anne Swank asked the court to impose the maximum sentence. Despite a defense argument that any sentence at Ricoy’s age of 59 will likely result in him dying in prison, Judge DeLaney granted the State’s request and imposed the most time allowed by law. Renteria said he is pleased with the outcomes in the case. “It is extremely difficult to meet the burden of proof for first degree murder, and I am proud that my team was able to meet that burden in the eyes of the jury. I also appreciate the thoughtful sentencing in this case,” he said. “Nothing will make the victim’s family whole, but I hope the conviction and sentencing gives them some comfort.”

Sixth Judicial District Attorney's Office of New Mexico

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