A Topeka man pleaded guilty Monday to crimes that included the September 2021 murder of a man he'd robbed nearly 21 months earlier, said Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay.
John Clayton Riley II, 35, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated robbery and one count each of intentional second-degree murder, arson and the aggravated intimidation of a witness, each victimizing Palmer Thompson.
Riley entered the plea as part of an agreement that calls for the prosecution and defense to both recommend he receive the maximum sentence for each crime, and that those sentences run consecutively, Kagay said.
Sentencing was set for 3:30 p.m. Feb. 3.
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District attorney says robbery took place nearly 21 months before killing
Kagay gave the following account of what happened.
Topeka police were called Dec. 31, 2019, to an apartment complex at 2908 S.W. 31st Court.
Thompson, a maintenance worker there, told them that a man carrying a large Bowie knife had just robbed him of items that included the keys to Thompson's home in North Topeka.
Upon arriving later that day at his home at 302 N.W. Spruce, Thompson realized items had been stolen in a burglary of that building.
Authorities investigated and charged Riley with crimes that included aggravated robbery and burglary.
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Thompson testified against man who later killed him
Thompson then testified March 4, 2020, at a preliminary hearing in which Riley was bound over for trial on those charges.
Riley subsequently posted bond and was released from the Shawnee County Jail.
Riley was awaiting trial on Sept. 26, 2021, when police and rescue workers were called to the scene of an intentionally set fire at Thompson's home.
Thompson, 29, was found shot to death in his bed in that house.
Investigators then determined Riley had stolen Thompson's identity and used it to access his financial accounts after his death. Riley was arrested Sept. 29, 2021.
Some charges against Riley were dropped in exchange for his entering guilty pleas to five charges on Tuesday.
Contact Tim Hrenchir at firstname.lastname@example.org or 785-213-5934.
This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: John Clayton Riley II pleads guilty to murder of Palmer Thompson