HILLSBOROUGH — Ryan Ladar Davis Lee, 26, who testified against his co-defendants in the murder of Joshua Bailey, was sentenced to approximately eight years in prison Thursday afternoon.
Lee had previously pleaded guilty in Orange County Superior Court to accessory after the fact to first-degree murder and accessory after the fact to first-degree kidnapping in a plea agreement on the condition that he testify truthfully against the other suspects.
Lee was not an active participant in the assault, kidnapping and murder of Bailey, but he was present during each of the events and assisted in the sale of the murder weapon.
He originally was one of six defendants charged with first-degree murder in the case.
In the summer of 2008, six young men, led by Brian Minton, and some of their friends and girlfriends, had been hanging out together in the Chapel Hill area, drinking, using drugs, playing video games and sometimes committing crimes that included selling drugs, break-ins and an armed home invasion, according to court testimony.
They began to think that one of them, Matt Johnson, was stealing from them and snitching to police. When they confronted Johnson, he falsely claimed Bailey was the snitch.
The group then assaulted Bailey by punching, hitting and kicking him, then bound him with zip ties and duct tape and drove him out to woods northwest of Carrboro, according to testimony. Carrying shovels and guns, they walked him in the woods, and Minton ordered Matt Johnson to shoot and kill Bailey, and he did.
Julie Bailey said she appreciates that Lee cooperated with investigators and testified against the others, but she chastised him for not stopping the murder or her son and for not reporting it afterward.
“We also remain in absolute shock that anyone could have witnessed all that he did and walk away without any seeming conscience,” she said.
Orange-Chatham District Attorney Jim Woodall said he was split on his feelings about Lee.
“I do think that Ryan told the truth and recalled important events that took place and recalled them very well,” he said.
But Woodall said he had a hard time understanding why Lee didn’t just leave when the others began confronting Bailey and why Lee followed the others as they took Bailey to the woods to shoot him.
Lee will be given credit for about 5-1/2 years he has already spent in custody when he begins serving the eight-year sentence.
The last defendant in the case, Jack Johnson II, is scheduled to be sentenced Monday.