Manslaughter plea brings 25-year term

A 27-year old Seneca man was sent to prison this afternoon for 25 years to account for the shooting death of a woman with whom he had argued.  A gunshot wound took the life of Mya Lee on May 17, 2018.  Richard Anthony Dunston Jr. was originally charged with murder, but pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter as the result of an agreement announced by Lindsey Simmons, deputy solicitor.  For a time, the sentencing judge hesitated on whether to accept Dunston’s plea after Dunston insisted that the gun went off in his hands as he and Lee argued.  But, in the end, Judge Letitia Verdin said she felt confident of Dunston’s guilt and pronounced the 25-year sentence.  Dunston’s attorney David Plowden said the calculations he has done indicate that when his client reaches 46 years of age in 2039, he will be eligible to be considered for parole.  Plowden pleaded with the judge for a 15-year sentence that would make his client eligible for parole at the age of 37.  The brother of the deceased, Gerald Goforth, indicated that whenever a parole hearing is granted, Lee family members will be there to oppose.  There were tears and emotions on display this afternoon from members of the families of both the defendant and the victim.  In the end, however, Judge Verdin concluded that what happened could not have been more serious.  Supporting the judge’s 25-year sentence was Casey Bowling, the interim Seneca police chief.  Bowling told the court he fears that Dunston’s record of domestic violence is so bad that other women were likely to be victimized should the defendant become free.  From the defense side, the court was told that Dunston is an intelligent person who could take the opportunity to re-habilitate himself.