Shelly Schultz

A defendant in the 2005 home-invasion death of a Cherokee County woman has pleaded guilty to reduced charges.

James Rickey, 37, was originally charged with first-degree murder in the death of Dorothy Daniels. He faced additional charges of kidnapping, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary.

Thursday, Rickey pleaded guilty to three felonies ó attempted aggravated battery, attempted robbery and burglary.

Last year, co-defendant John Gaston, 24, pleaded guilty to reduced charges or involuntary manslaughter and felony burglary.

According to court documents, Rickey and Gaston were part of a home-invasion ring that spanned throughout the four-state area.

They are also accused in at least one home invasion of an elderly Ottawa County man.

The pair, aided by at least three others, preyed on the elderly.

Court documents indicate that Rickey and Gaston made contact with 86-year-old Daniels at her home on Dec. 1, 2005. The pair asked her if she wanted them to paint her barn.

Witnesses testified in Gastonís preliminary trial that Rickey and Gaston then forced their way into Danielsí house, pushing her backwards. Daniels was restrained while she was robbed of her jewelry and other valuables.

During an interview with investigators immediately after the incident, Daniels collapsed and was rushed to a Pittsburg hospital where she died.

Medical examiners determined Danielsí death was a direct result of elevated blood pressure, which caused blood vessels to burst and caused the sac surrounding her heart to fill with blood.

Rickey was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being found guilty in May of 2008 in Newton County home-invasion cases.