Circuit judge sets trial date for 3 charged in student’s shooting death


Judge Ernesto Scorsone meets with the prosecutors and defenders during a bond hearing for the 3 suspects involved in the murder of former Kernel photo editor Jonathan Krueger at the Fayette County Circuit Court in Lexington, Ky. on Friday, February 5, 2016. Photo by Michael Reaves | Staff.

Cheyene Miller

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Circuit court judge Ernesto Scorsone set a trial date for the three individuals charged with the April 2015 shooting death of Kentucky Kernel photo editor and UK student Jonathan Krueger.

The trial is set to begin March 6, 2017, and will run for about four weeks. A status hearing is scheduled for June 3.

Justin Delone Smith, Efrain Diaz Jr. and Roman Gonzalez Jr. are charged with murder and first-degree robbery. Smith was also charged with tampering with physical evidence, and fleeing and evading police.

All three individuals claim to be involved with the Ambrose street gang, according to police.

Police said Krueger was killed at about 2 a.m. on April 17 when he was walking home on East Maxwell Street with friend Aaron Gillette. Police said a red or maroon van with a sliding door pulled up to them, and two individuals exited the vehicle with handguns.

Police found Krueger’s body lying in the street upon arrival. He was killed by a gunshot to the chest, according to the Fayette County coroner.

On Feb. 5, Scorsone denied bail for Smith and Diaz Jr. because they could face the death penalty if convicted. Scorsone set Gonzalez’s bail at $1 million because Gonzalez Jr. was a minor at the time of the crime and is facing life in prison, not the death penalty.