James Richard “Ricky” Thompson, 20, pleaded guilty today to the murder of two then-recent UT graduates in their West Campus apartment in July 2009. He will receive two concurrent life sentences.
In accordance with the plea agreement, Thompson will provide full testimony about all of those involved in the murders. Without the plea agreement, he would face consecutive life sentences, meaning no possibility of parole for 60 years.
“The evidence is overwhelming,” said his attorney Perry Minton. “Because of the evidence in this case, we believe that these two life sentences are the best that he could get.”
Thompson was charged with the murder of John Goosey, a marijuana dealer according to police affidavits, and his roommate Stacy Barnett. According to the affidavit of Thompson’s arrest, Goosey told friends that a “kid,” Thompson, owed him up to $9,000 for marijuana that he sold. Cell phone records showed Goosey attempted to contact Thompson several times but did not reach him until July 20.
On the morning of July 21, the day of the murders, Thompson, who “was looking to clear his debt,” according to the affidavit told Goosey that he would come over to talk. Thompson’s roommate, Samuel Gifford, drove him to the apartment and waited outside for about 15 minutes, according to his interview. Reports indicate that Thompson shot Goosey and Barnett in the head multiple times with a .22 pistol and tried to remove the evidence.
Thompson was arrested a week later and was originally charged with two counts of capital murder, which yields a death sentence or life without parole. Minton, his attorney, said Thompson had a minor theft charge previous to this occasion, but “he [wasn’t] the type of kid that you would imagine to be wound up in this situation.”
Recently, however, detectives amassed evidence implicating Gifford and another man, Roy Renick, as involved in planning the murders.
Both men are said to have helped steal insulation from an abandoned home to build a silencer for the pistol, test the silencer and even simulate Goosey’s apartment for practice runs. The affidavit for Renick’s arrest said he knew how to construct a silencer, told Thompson “to spray the bodies with ammonia so that there would be no evidence left behind at the scene,” and referred Thompson to someone who would give him a gun. They then drove to Mount Bonnell and disposed of the evidence.
Gifford and Renick were arrested Friday and have since acquired legal representation.
Thompson, who faced Barnett’s friends and family during his sentence, is under custody of the Travis County Jail, but will be transported to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
“Did you know she was a poet when you shot her in the face? Did you know she was an artist? Did you see any of the paintings in her apartment?” said Barnett’s father, Bill. “Why did you shoot her so many times? Did you just hate her that much, this girl you didn’t know, or did you just enjoy it that much?”