Home Breaking News Plea deal spares local family for another trial in son’s death

Plea deal spares local family for another trial in son’s death

A new billboard went up recently near Wilson Park on Mt. Pleasant Drive where Donyell King played baseball for the Scrappers. The family has put up other billboards around town calling for an end to gun violence. On the billboard near the baseball field, one side says “Once a Scrapper, Always a Scrapper.”

By John Balch

News-Leader staff

HOT SPRINGS – It’s over now.

The family of Donyell “Head” King, formerly of Nashville, will be spared another emotional trial after the second of two men charged in King’s death entered a plea deal to avoid a jury trial and a possible life sentence.

Tommy Woodruff III, 20, of Malvern, was scheduled for trial Sept. 27 for the death of King on May 12, Mother’s Day 2019, during a dispute outside a Hot Springs home. 

The incident also seriously injured King’s father, Donald King. 

Woodfork entered into the plea agreement Tuesday, Sept. 14

Woodfork was sentenced to a total of 38 years for first-degree murder and two counts of terroristic act related to the injuries suffered by the father.

Donald King was a front-seat passenger in his son’s car with his mother, Shunelle King, in the backseat at the time of the shooting.

According to reporting in the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record, Woodfork was sentenced to 38 years on all three counts, which will run concurrently. He will have to serve at least 26 years and six months of the sentences before he will be eligible for parole.

“We are satisfied with the outcome,” Mrs. King told the Nashville News-Leader after being informed that Woodfork had taken an early plea deal and that her family would not have to suffer through another trial.

“I was dreading my family and the other witnesses having to go through this all again,” she said.

Woodfork’s accomplice and instigator of the altercation involving the Kings, Kaylen Dantrell Damion Burks, 25, was sentenced July 1 for his role in the 2019 incident. 

He was sentenced on the charges of second-degree murder, three counts of a terroristic act and a firearm violation. Burks, also of Malvern, will have to serve at least 22 years of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.

As part of the deal, a firearm enhancement charge was dropped against Woodfork and a permanent no-contact order was issued for the King family, as well as any trial witnesses.

“My heart still aches for the loss of my son but I am glad it’s all over and justice has been served,” Mrs. King added.

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