Ruybal pleads in McBride case


ALAMOSA — Kelvin Ruybal, 34, Manassa, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to felony second-degree kidnapping in connection with the 2016 Floyd Dale McBride murder.

He also pleaded guilty to felony first-degree burglary for his part in a rural Conejos County home invasion last year.

Ruybal asked for his sentencing to be expedited, and District Judge Michael Gonzales accommodated his request by scheduling the sentencing for October 18.

“We believe this disposition is in line with the actions taken by Mr. Ruybal,” Assistant District Attorney Ashley McCuaig told the judge when he recommended Ruybal’s plea agreement.

McCuaig said that in connection with McBride’s murder last summer, Ruybal’s involvement consisted of “helping to move a then-dying Mr. McBride from one location to another” and later assisting McBride’s killer Lonnie Cooper in burying McBride. Cooper, 43, has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and will be sentenced on October 25. Judge Gonzales initially scheduled Ruybal’s sentencing for that same date, but Ruybal’s attorney David Roth was unavailable, as he will be covering for the attorney who represents Devin Cooper, one of Lonnie’s sons who will also be sentenced on October 25 for his part in the McBride case.

McBride, 52, died on June 23, 2016, after being shot by Lonnie Cooper at one rural Alamosa County address, being moved from there with Ruybal’s assistance to the Cooper residence, also in rural Alamosa County, and subsequently bleeding to death at the Cooper residence. Ruybal helped bury McBride in Conejos County. McBride was later reburied in a remote area of Costilla County where his body was eventually recovered.

Roth explained that Ruybal’s plea agreement included the felony second-degree kidnapping charge for which defense and prosecution had stipulated a 16-year sentence in the Department of Corrections to be served concurrently with a 10-year sentence in the Conejos County case. The agreement also stipulated that Ruybal’s prior felony convictions constituted aggravating circumstances in the McBride case, requiring a sentence above the normal sentencing range of 2-8 years. The maximum sentence in the aggravated range is 16 years, which is the sentence recommended in this case.

Another Alamosa case was dismissed as part of the plea agreement as were other charges in the McBride case. Ruybal’s original charges included manslaughter, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping.

In the Conejos County case, Ruybal pleaded guilty to felony first-degree burglary with crime of violence as an enhancer since a handgun was involved. More than a dozen other counts were dismissed as part of the agreement.

In the Conejos County case, Ruybal and two others on January 24, 2016, attempted to steal what they believed were drugs and drug money from David Candelaria on County Road G, Antonito.

McCuaig said Ruybal and his accomplices “held the people inside the residence at gunpoint.”

One of the other codefendants received eight years in prison, and the third codefendant, believed to be the main culprit in the Conejos County case, was not given an offer but should end up serving a sentence exceeding 10 years, so the prosecution believed a 10-year sentence for Ruybal was appropriate, McCuaig explained to the judge.

The normal sentencing range for this type of felony burglary would be 4-16 years in the Department of Corrections and up to 32 years under extraordinary circumstances, but the stipulated agreement is for 10 years in prison, the midpoint of the normal range.

McCuaig said although he was waiting for confirmation on the victims’ response to the Conejos County case disposition, he understood there was no objection to this plea agreement. In the McBride case, the victim’s family wants the maximum sentences against all those involved, McCuaig said, but is comfortable with this disposition since Ruybal was not the main culprit.

Judge Gonzales told Ruybal that while a 16-year sentence is recommended as part of this stipulated agreement, if he decides after reviewing the pre-sentence report that is not the appropriate sentence, he would allow Ruybal to withdraw his plea. The judge made the same offer regarding the Conejos County stipulated agreement to sentencing.

Ruybal asked the judge to waive the pre-sentence investigative report and “get this on the road.”

The judge said he would be willing to move faster than normal towards sentencing at Ruybal’s request. Normally the sentencing date would be scheduled about two months following the plea.

Judge Gonzales vacated a trial that was scheduled to begin next week for Ruybal. Ruybal remains in custody.