Man gets 25 years for Lockwood killing
Ryan Bonnett knew he was going to prison for the October 2009 beating death of a Lockwood woman. He had asked for as much in a letter given to the judge in advance of his Friday sentencing on a charge of second-degree murder. But for the first time in the half-dozen appearances he has made in court since his arrest nearly two years ago, the seemingly smug Bonnett, 24, was apologetic.
Armed with letters to Pruitt’s family, the community of Lockwood, the Storey County Sheriff’s Office, the judge and one addressed specifically to Pruitt’s father, Bonnett spoke for more than five minutes of his regret and the acceptance of his wrongs.
“I am so sorry for your loss. I truly am with all my heart. I can’t imagine losing a loved one the way you did and the pain you must feel from it. It makes me sick to think I inflicted that kind of pain on you or that I’m capable of taking a life, especially the way I did,” he said. “A life is by far the worse thing you can take. I pray for forgiveness and Miss Pruitt’s soul every night. I want you to know this apology comes straight from my heart. I mean every word and beyond.”
The man in court Friday was in stark contrast to the one who police say viciously beat the 47-year-old Pruitt, who had left the home she shared with her ailing father to walk the dog on Oct. 18, 2009.
The two met outside the Riverbend Community Center as a grossly intoxicated Bonnett tried to bum a smoke from Pruitt, with “Hey man, you got a cigarette?”
Bonnett’s girlfriend, Nicole Martinez, said during a January 2010 preliminary hearing that Pruitt seemed angry to be referred to as “man.” After Bonnett addressed her, Pruitt and Bonnett muttered and cussed at one another. When Pruitt turned to walk away, her dog lunged. Bonnett kicked the dog. Pruitt swung at Bonnett. And then Bonnett beat her to death.
The autopsy report indicated Pruitt died from “multiple blunt force injuries due to assault.”
Her battered body sustained 15 rib fractures, a fractured eye socket, a bruised heart, hemorrhaging in the abdomen, kidney, diaphragm and brain, and she had an imprint on her face and forehead from the sole of Bonnett’s shoe.
Pruitt’s father Raymond Pruitt told the judge Friday that he and his daughter, whom he called caring and loving, shared the costs of their “final home.”
“When Eileen was killed I was doomed to lose our home. I had to miss some mortgage payments. Soon foreclosure action began. I don’t know where I’ll live or what will become of me after I’m put out on the street,” said Raymond Pruitt. “I feel that in a very real sense, two of us will end up dying of the same horrible crime.”
Bonnett turned to face Raymond Pruitt and expressed his remorse.
“No one ever should have to lose their child the way you did. What I did was senseless and unforgivable,” he said. “I’m not asking you to forgive me because that’d be unfair to ask. I know a apology isn’t going to take away your pain … I just want you to know, with all my heart and being I am so very sorry.”
Judge Todd Russell noted that in the plea agreement Bonnett made in November 2009, the District Attorney’s Office agreed to recommend a term of 25 years in prison. A pre-sentence report by the Division of Parole and Probation also recommended that term, and, Russell said, it was his understanding that Pruitt’s family supports the sentence. For all of those reasons, and that fact that Bonnett seemed to understand what he had done, the judge agreed. The alternative would have been life with parole after 10 years.
“Mr. Bonnett here is a young man who made some very bad decisions on the night of Oct. 18, 2009,” Russell said. “He claims to some extent that he doesn’t recall the events that led up to Miss Pruitt’s death based upon drugs and alcohol. That is no excuse and it can never be an excuse. Mr. Bonnett must take full responsibility for his actions.
“I was moved by your statements to some extent. I believe, to a large extent, hopefully you can turn around your life and become some kind of productive citizen … but you certainly caused such trauma in the lives of so many people as a result of your actions.”
Bonnett will be eligible for parole after 10 years. He received credit for 516 days in jail.