Suspects in shooting of Jonathan Krueger to appear in court Friday

Kentucky Kernel Photo Editor Jonathan Krueger at Rupp Arena as Kentucky hosted Vanderbilt University, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015 in Lexington. Photo by Jonathan Palmer

Cheyene Miller

Friday will mark the first time Mary Krueger has been in a courtroom to observe the legal proceedings of the men accused of killing her son.

“I don’t know what to expect.  I don’t know what to think,” said Mary Krueger, whose son Jonathan Krueger, a former photo editor at the Kentucky Kernel, was shot and killed in a robbery while walking home on East Maxwell Street at about 2 a.m. on April 17.

Jonathan Krueger, a native of Perrysburg, Ohio, was walking with friend Aaron Gillette when three men jumped out of a van and approached the two. Police said the three men demanded their money and a physical struggle ensued that ended in gunshots.  

Police later charged Efrain Diaz Jr., 20, Justin Delone Smith, 18, and Roman Gonzalez Jr., 17 with murder and first degree robbery. Smith was also charged with tampering and with fleeing or evading police.

Diaz and Smith admitted to police they were involved with the robbery, but told police that Gonzalez shot and killed Jonathan Krueger.

Krueger was killed by a gunshot to the chest, according to the Fayette County coroner.  His body was found lying in the street. Gillette was able to escape and was aided by a bystander.

Mary Krueger said that she will be attending Friday’s bond hearing along with several other of Jonathan’s friends and family members. She said that she has heard investigators will be presenting information from a ballistics report, but otherwise doesn’t know what kind of evidence she will see Friday.

“I think it’s just going to be hard to think about that night again,” Mary Krueger said.  “To think about him just walking home after a nice evening and that was the last walk home … I just know I want to be there and our family wants to be there.  Some of his friends from various places in the country are coming just because they want to do something for Jonathan.”

Diaz and Smith could face the death penalty if found guilty on murder charges. Gonzalez, who was a minor at the time of the crime, could face a life sentence.

Defense attorney Casey Holland, who is representing Diaz, told WKYT, “These words will sound very hollow, but we are very sorry for your loss.”

Hearing the message for the first time, Mary Krueger said she understands the attorney’s condolences but doesn’t know how to respond.

“I get it at one level … but the words don’t make up for the loss,” Mary Krueger said.

The bond hearing was originally scheduled for Jan. 15, but was rescheduled for Friday at 2 p.m.