While recently sorting through stock in their Kansas City rental shop, David Bledsoe’s parents pondered how different life would be if a gunman hadn’t stolen their son from them.
Eventually he will cost them their shop too.
And now Kenneth and Joan Bledsoe worry about the fact that the killer’s getaway driver lives in the community on probation.
“He has a lot of friends that don’t like me,” Kenneth Bledsoe, 86, said about George Britton Sr., 68.
David Bledsoe, 50, led a generous life before his death during the 2011 robbery. Neighborhood residents knew him as someone happy to do small repairs without charging. He tackled his parents’ home repairs without being asked. Now they must hire tradesmen.
Another son in the shop during the robbery has developed memory problems and lives in perpetual shock.
Because of the murder, the family is winding down a business that Kenneth Bledsoe opened with his dad in 1945. Business dropped 50 percent a year after the murder and fell another 50 percent a year after that.
“We’re losing money and customers because either they’re too far out or won’t come here because they’re scared,” Kenneth Bledsoe said.
Britton drove two much younger men, one of them his grandson, to the shop knowing they planned to rob it.
Those men pointed handguns at David Bledsoe. After he said, “You’re not going to shoot us,” one gunman fired.
While the robbers looked for money, Bledsoe struggled to his feet. He attempted to chase them but collapsed outside his truck.
Britton cooperated with police and received probation after pleading guilty to second-degree murder and robbery. While waiting to testify against the younger men, he dealt with an array of health issues, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol and kidney disease, according to court records.
Kenneth and Joan Bledsoe agreed it’s fair that the state isn’t paying his medical bills in prison. But they expressed surprise that judges elsewhere likely would have sentenced him to prison regardless of his age or infirmities.
In 2006, a Kansas City federal judge sentenced an ailing 82-year-old pawnbroker to 25 years in prison for helping organize a Country Club Plaza jewelry store robbery during which no one died.
“A crime is a crime,” Joan Bledsoe said. “Why should there be a difference?”