Video by Dave Sess
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio, (WKBN) – Yalonda Smith told Dawond Roddy she robbed her of the opportunity to say goodbye to her brother.
Roddy, 35, pleaded guilty June 22 to charges of tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony, and a fourth-degree felony count of arson for his role in the July 1, 2020, shooting death of Smith’s 42-year-old brother Raylin Blunt. He was being sentenced in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court before Judge Anthony Donofrio.
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.
Blunt was burned so badly it took three weeks to positively identify him and the family could not even have a casket for him at his funeral service, Smith said.
“He took away closure for my family,” Smith said. “He [Blunt] was reduced to ash.”
Roddy was sentenced to the maximum four-year prison term he could receive for the charges. He pleaded guilty the day his trial was supposed to begin.
Kimbrough also pleaded guilty to murder that same day and was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison.
Assistant Prosecutor Michael Yacovone said police believe Roddy had no idea Kimbrough was going to kill Blunt.
Blunt was killed in a yard on Oak Lane, then was bundled in a carpet and put in his SUV, which was driven out to McGuffey Road and set on fire in a vacant lot. Firefighters discovered his body when they came to put out the fire.
However, Yacovone asked for the maximum sentence, saying that Roddy never came to police until he was caught on July 8, 2020, and that his actions led to the destruction of someone’s body.
Smith said at her brother’s funeral, instead of a coffin there was an urn with his ashes. She said the family never got a chance to look at her brother to say goodbye and in some ways that’s worse than Blunt’s death itself.
Defense lawyer Tony Meranto argued for a lesser sentence. He said his client has already spent a year in jail and that two other people who were present when Blunt was killed acted the same way his client did but they were never charged.
Yacovone said those two people came to police and told them what happened a couple of days after Blunt’s death. Roddy never did that, Yacovone said.
Roddy said he acted the way he did because he was afraid Kimbrough would kill him. He apologized to Blunt’s family.
“I had no knowledge this was going to happen,” Roddy said. “They [Blunt and Kimbrough] seemed like good friends to me. I detected no negativity.”
“I was forced into a position where I could have lost my life as well,” Roddy added.
Prosecutors have not said what the motive for the killing was but Kimbrough’s defense attorney said at Kimbrough’s sentencing that Kimbrough was upset Blunt owed him $50 for a gun.
Judge Donofrio said that Roddy is not a typical criminal defendant because he has a college degree, was honorably discharged and for a time worked a steady job.
But the judge added he was concerned that Roddy admitted he was high on ecstasy when Kimbrough killed Blunt and that he was associating with people who were capable of murder.
“I would’ve thought your choices would’ve been better with your background,” Judge Donofrio said.
Roddy’s actions denied Blunt’s family any chance at closure, Judge Donofrio said.
Clutching crime scene photos of Blunt’s body, Judge Donofrio said, “This used to be a human being and it’s unrecognizable. I truly believe you had the opportunity to walk away.”
Roddy will get credit for 387 days served in jail while awaiting the disposition of his case.