New trial date set in shooting death of UK student

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Posted at 4:16 PM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-21 18:09:30-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A new trial date has been set six years after University of Kentucky student Jonathan Krueger was shot and killed while he was walking home with a friend.

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In a Zoom court hearing Wednesday, it was set for April 4th, 2022. The trial should take about nine days.

Justin Delone Smith, Roman Gonzalez, and Efrain Diaz, Jr. were all charged with murder and first-degree robbery. Smith is also charged with tampering with evidence and first-degree fleeing or evading police.

The trial has been pushed back several times due to the pandemic and a question about the death penalty that went all the way to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

While it was a consideration before, the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office announced Wednesday that it would not seek the death penalty.

"The Commonwealth is seeking to proceed with all aggravators but not the death penalty," Amanda Morgan with the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office said at the Zoom hearing.

With every hearing, the case inches closer and closer to coming to an end. But even when all is said and done, it likely won't bring closure to Krueger's family, according to Natalie Parks who recently interviewed Jonathan's mom for a story about the 6th-year anniversary of Krueger's death.

Parks is the Editor in Chief at the Kentucky Kernel, where Krueger was a photo editor.

"The end of the trial is separate from the closure that they're getting over Jonathan's death," Parks said. "There's not going to be closure. It's going to be something that they'll live with for the rest of their lives. He's never coming back. No sentence in the world for the suspects is going to bring Jonathan back to life."

And despite the outcome in the case, Parks said those who knew Krueger best will continue to remember him as a fun-loving, passionate, kind, and silly person.

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