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Ex-Star Athlete Gets 4 Years in Fatal Beating

February 03, 2001|CAROL CHAMBERS

A former Littlerock High School quarterback was sentenced Friday to four years in state prison for the beating death of an 18-year-old man at a party in Palmdale.

Richard Newton, 17, pleaded no contest in December to involuntary manslaughter in the killing of Christopher O'Leary, who died three days after he was punched and kicked in the head at the May 19 party. A more serious charge of murder was dropped Friday as a result of the plea bargain.

Also under the plea bargain, Newton pleaded no contest to a charge of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury--stemming from a fight with another party-goer, 22-year-old Kevin Walker. The four-year sentence, which allows no possibility of parole, was handed down by Judge Carol Koppel of Antelope Superior Court in Lancaster.

Newton is one of three former star athletes at the school charged in O'Leary's death. Although all were 17 at the time of the incident, they were prosecuted as adults.

Former teammate Rodney Woods, 18, of Palmdale, pleaded no contest and was sentenced in January to a year in jail and five years' probation for assaulting Walker, but charges related to the O'Leary beating were dropped due to insufficient evidence.

Marcus Raines, 17, pleaded not guilty in September to murder and assault charges in O'Leary's death. He is being held in lieu of $985,000 bail pending a preliminary hearing Feb. 9.

Prosecutors said Newton punched O'Leary in the jaw, causing him to fall and hit his head on the sidewalk. Raines then allegedly kicked him in the head, Deputy Dist. Atty. John Portillo has said.

An All-Golden League linebacker who also was ranked second in the state in high hurdles, Raines faces life in prison if convicted of the charges.

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