Helen Ragan died on what should have been a cozy family night, nesting with her husband and watching sports on the television.
The Phoenix Suns were beating the Portland Trail Blazers that April 2010 day, and the team her husband, Corey Jones, loved would move ahead in the NBA playoffs.
While Jones watched the game in bed, Ragan teased him that the Suns couldn’t win.
“Yes, they are!” Jones crowed.
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Within seconds, 20 bullets spattered into their south Kansas City home. Some struck Ragan, who collapsed onto the floor.
The agony of that moment returned two years later when Jones learned that the men who fired wildly into their home — Trayvon Brown and Kelly Lewis, both 16 at the time — spent no time in prison on the voluntary manslaughter charge to which each pleaded guilty.
“They killed my wife,” Jones said recently. “That’s just a hurting feeling.”
Brown and Lewis each served short sentences on lesser weapons charges and now are on probation, according to Corrections Department records.
Lawyers defending Brown and Lewis had raised objections to their clients’ recorded confessions when they learned that the informant who had worn the wire had done it to avoid charges in an unrelated criminal case.
Still, none of that makes much sense to Jones.
“I don’t understand that one,” Jones said. “You get off killing someone with manslaughter and you get no time for it? That’s bad.”
Earlier this spring, as the four-year anniversary of his wife’s death approached, Jones described dealing with the loss. He prays, attends church regularly and has left his grief, and his hopes for justice, in God’s hands.
He has returned to his native Mississippi, where he cares for his mother and avoids memories of Kansas City, his home for 13 years and the place where Ragan was born and raised.
And back home in Mississippi, he likely won’t run into Brown and Lewis from the old neighborhood.
“I didn’t want to be around those people,” Jones said. “For me not to get myself in trouble, I moved.”