A homeless man is headed to state prison for killing another man nearly two and a half years ago outside a convenience store in north Independence.
William R. Godfrey II, 42, pleaded guilty Friday to a charge of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Paul T. Doughty, 53. He was scheduled to go on trial later this month on a charge of second-degree murder. He entered an Alford plea, meaning he did not admit guilt but conceded the state had enough evidence to convict him.
He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
The killing happened in the overnight hours of Sept. 21, 2015, outside the 7-Eleven at Noland Road and U.S. 24. A clerk took out the trash and saw two men near a fenced-in trash bin. He tried to talk to Godfrey, who was unresponsive, and then he called 911.
Godfrey later told police he had been walking and found two bottles of whiskey – one Jack Daniels and one Old Crow, both mostly full – in a ditch. Godfrey said he and Doughty were drinking in the fenced-in area at the 7-Eleven but at one point Doughty said he wanted to stop.
Godfrey said Doughty struck him on the knee with his cane, which Godfrey took and broke. Doughty tried to leave, but Godfrey grabbed him, shoved him to the ground and struck him in the face several times.
He grabbed a milk crate and struck Doughty in the face with it about 10 times, he told police. He was wearing steel-toed boots and kicked Doughty several times in the chest and the side of the head. He told police that a kick to the temple might have been the blow that killed Doughty.
He said he looked at Doughty’s motionless body and became irate with himself and began punching the trash bin, injuring his hands.
Emergency responders pronounced Doughty dead at the scene. They found Godfrey, lying on the ground in the fetal position, with dried blood on his hands, clothes and boots, incoherent and clutching a pack of Pall Mall cigarettes.