YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A man who pleaded guilty to his role in the burning of a body in an East Side murder case was granted an early release from prison Thursday.
Judge Anthony Donofrio granted a motion in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for early release by Dawond Roddy, 38, who was serving a four-year prison sentence on tampering with evidence and arson charges for his role in the July 1, 2020, shooting death of Raylin Blunt, 42.
Roddy admitted helping his cousin, Julius Kimbrough, 43, dispose of Blunt’s body by setting his SUV on fire with Blunt’s body inside on McGuffey Road after Kimbrough shot him 10 times at a home on Oak Lane.
Blunt was burned so badly that it took three weeks to positively identify him and the family could not even have a casket for him at his funeral service.
Kimbrough pleaded guilty to a charge of murder and is serving a prison sentence of 18 years to life.
Both men entered guilty pleas June 22, 2021, in the case. The four-year sentence that Roddy received is the maximum he could have gotten.
They were both arrested a few days after Blunt was killed and have been in jail or prison ever since.
Prosecutors opposed the motion, saying that Roddy helped Kimbrough rob Blunt’s family of any opportunity to mourn him.
“The defendant’s actions are, quite frankly, heinous,” said Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Day.
Blunt’s sister, Yolanda Smith, told the judge the hearing was making her family relive the gruesome death of her brother.
“It’s hard for me to stand here because we are living this all over again,” Smith said. “Four years isn’t enough time, but that’s what he agreed to.”
“It’s like my heart is broken over and over again,” Smith said.
Roddy’s lawyer, Tony Meranto, said his client was scared when he helped Kimbrough because Kimbrough shot Blunt right in front of him with no warning. Meranto said it is not a stretch to assume others would have acted the same under the circumstances, which he said made him regret not trying the case.
“I might have been able to prove to a jury they would have done the same thing under the circumstances,” Meranto said.
Meranto also said Roddy was not the person who killed Blunt and he had no criminal record before Blunt’s death and is also an honorably discharged veteran.
Roddy apologized and said he had no idea that Kimbrough was going to kill Blunt. He said he only obeyed Kimbrough’s instructions because he was terrified.
“My actions were totally based on fear,” he said.
Roddy added that while in prison, he has learned a lot of lessons. He said he never knew his cousin was capable of killing another person.
“I’ve learned a lot of lessons, especially when it comes to involving myself with people,” Roddy said.
Judge Donofrio said he was mystified by Roddy’s behavior because there was nothing in his background that would indicate he would involve himself in a serious crime. He wondered what kind of hold Kimbrough had on him.
“It seems like your life was on track before you got mixed up with this guy,” Judge Donofrio said.
Judge Donofrio said an important factor in his decision was Roddy’s lack of any discipline while he was in prison.
“Your institutional record is spotless,” Judge Donofrio said.
Judge Donofrio said he understands how Blunt’s family feels, and he said the crime was horrific. But he added that he thinks Roddy has the tools to contribute to society, citing his military history and his lack of a criminal record beforehand.
“I think there’s something in your past that shows you can be a productive citizen,” Judge Donofrio said.
Roddy was also placed on five years probation, and he must get a job and he is also allowed no contact with Kimbrough. If he violates his probation or gets in trouble, he could be sent back to prison to serve the rest of his sentence.