What was scheduled as a Friday bond hearing turned into a negotiated guilty plea for a Waterloo man accused in a fatal January stabbing near Red Bud.
“To some degree, it was unique,” Randolph County State’s Attorney Jeremy Walker said. “I walked in here today and it caught me by surprise.”
Kodi Lafore, 23, was sentenced to concurrent five-year prison sentences for second degree murder in Randolph County and possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in Monroe County. He must serve 75 percent of his prison term on the meth charge and 50 percent of the murder charge before any time off for good behavior is accrued. Lafore will also be placed on two years of mandatory supervised release following his prison sentence.
Friday’s hearing before Judge Dennis Doyle at the Monroe County Courthouse in Waterloo was to decide whether to raise or revoke bond for Lafore on the second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter charges in connection with the Jan. 6 stabbing death of 36-year-old Adam Sesto. Lafore had been free on bond in that case when he was arrested Nov. 15 in far southern Monroe County for possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver and on a Randolph County warrant for deceptive practice.
A stipulation as part of Lafore being free on bond, however, was that he not possess a knife. Police said Lafore was in possession of a pocketknife during his Nov. 15 arrest. The bond on Lafore’s Monroe County arrest was $250,000, which kept him at the Monroe County Jail in Waterloo.
His murder trial was set to start Jan. 14, 2019 at the Randolph County Courthouse in Chester.
Several family members and friends of Sesto were in attendance at Friday’s bond hearing, which started at 1 p.m. A long wait ensued as attorneys representing all sides met with various involved parties in side rooms.
Finally, at about 3:30 p.m., Lafore appeared before Judge Doyle with all attorneys present and Judge Doyle announced that an agreement had been reached.
Lafore, appearing in a standard issue orange jail jumpsuit, provided simple “yes” and “no” answers to the judge when questioned about the plea agreement. When asked if he had anything to say prior to his sentencing, Lafore simply answered “Nope.”
He will be transported immediately to Menard Correctional Center in Chester to begin serving his sentence.
Sesto’s mother, Tammy Light, sobbed openly in court when Judge Doyle read a brief account of the murder charge involving her son aloud to Lafore.
“There will be people that say ‘why did you settle?’ There is no amount of time that would be enough,” Light told reporters after the hearing, adding that the Lafore family is hurting along with hers. “I hope that we can now move on to the true grieving for Adam.”
Sesto’s uncle, Tim Reed, agreed.
“Hopefully we can put this behind us now,” he said.
Walker said the weight of an additional case in Monroe County certainly “added pressure” on Lafore to negotiate a plea.
“Certainly I’d say his troubles in Monroe County added to that,” Walker said, adding that “a trial wouldn’t have been pretty” for anyone involved.
Monroe County State’s Attorney Chris Hitzemann said he was glad to work together with Walker in wrapping up both cases at once.
“If our case ended up bringing justice to the Sesto family… I’m glad we were able to assist,” Hitzemann said.