Man convicted of killing 3 is charged in 4 more slayings

AP News
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Posted: Dec 29, 2016 11:14 AM

ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) — Now that Todd West has been sentenced to life in prison for the fatal shootings of three people in Pennsylvania, he faces murder charges for the deaths of four others in New Jersey.

The slayings were apparently random over three months in 2015, prosecutors say.

West, 24, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, was sentenced in October in Pennsylvania to three consecutive life sentences after pleading guilty to killing two people in Allentown and a third in Easton in July of 2015. He said at a hearing at the time that he "just wanted to kill them."

On Thursday, a New Jersey prosecutor announced that a grand jury has indicted West in the May and June 2015 shooting deaths of four people. Authorities said West will be transferred to New Jersey from Pennsylvania to be arraigned on the charges. It was unclear whether he has an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

West was charged in the 2015 slayings of his cousin, 29-year-old Michael Thompkins, at an apartment building in Elizabeth on May 18; 28-year-old Dennis Vega, of Elizabeth, in the early morning of June 25; Jamil Payne, 29, later that night; and Kelvin Nelson, 32, also that night. In addition, West is charged with attempting to murder Richard Marte, who survived an attack.

Union County prosecutor Grace Park called the killings a "horrific event." Her office said that a motive was unclear and that authorities found no evidence that drugs, gang activity or robbery played a role in the killings.

The same .38-caliber revolver was used in all four shootings.

In Pennsylvania, West admitted to killing Francine Ramos, 32, and Trevor Gray, 22, while they were riding in a car in Allentown. He said he shot Kory Ketrow, 22, in Easton, about an hour earlier because Ketrow looked "tired."