The sentencing for a man convicted of first-degree murder in the April 2015 shooting death of a Garden City man has been continued until January to give the defense more time to file post-trial motions.
The sentencing for Michael Eugene George, Jr., 34, Garden City, who was convicted in September of the shooting death of 21-year-old Karlton Waechter, had been scheduled for Monday in Judge Robert Frederick’s courtroom.
George appeared in court Monday with his attorney, Razmi Tahirkheli, who made a motion to continue the hearing, saying recent health issues had prevented him from filing the motions.
Deputy Finney County Attorney William Votypka didn’t object to the continuance, which was granted by Frederick, who scheduled a hearing for the motions and possibly sentencing in the case for 9 a.m. Jan. 10, 2017.
Tahirkheli, who didn’t elaborate in court on the nature of the motions he planned to file, said he hoped to file them by the end of this week.
A jury on Sept. 30 found George guilty of first-degree murder, attempted possession with intent to distribute at least 3.5 grams but less than 100 grams of methamphetamine, attempted aggravated robbery for trying to take money and/or narcotics by force or threat of bodily harm while armed with a semi-automatic handgun, aggravated assault or battery, and criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. All of the charges stem from the April 19, 2015, shooting death of Waechter at East Garden Village Mobile Home Park.
The jury found George guilty of first attempting to rob Mariah Duran, Garden City, of a half-ounce of methamphetamine, then threatening her and hitting her with a gun before shooting Waechter and fleeing the scene.
According to prosecutors, George is facing 25 years to life in prison for the first-degree murder charge, and Frederick has the option to run the sentences for the other charges either concurrently or consecutively to the murder sentence.
A second suspect in the shooting, Jeffrey Allen Rigdon, 35, Garden City, identified George as the shooter during George’s trial. Rigdon testified he had been given instructions by Cesar Fierro-Acevedo, 29, who was sentenced Aug. 1 to more than 13 years in prison for second-degree murder and solicitation to commit robbery for his role in Waechter’s murder, to get a half-ounce of methamphetamine back from Duran.
Rigdon had been charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit distribution or possession with intent to distribute at least 3.5 grams but less than 100 grams of methamphetamine, attempted aggravated robbery, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, aggravated battery and criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in connection with Waechter’s death. But as part of a plea deal, Rigdon agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit distribution or possession, which carries a potential sentence of 42 to 144 months and a possible fine up to $500,000, in exchange for the testimony he gave against George. The other charges were dismissed.
Sentencing for Rigdon has been scheduled for 4 p.m. Dec. 5.