Judge imposes sentence for quadruple killer

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A Newport News judge has imposed three life in prison sentences for the the man convicted of brutally murdering his wife and three stepchildren in 2011.

The decision on the sentencing of 38-year-old John Moses Ragin is as follows:

  • Three life in prison sentences for the convictions of the capital murder of 15-year-old Sierra, 11-year-old LaKwan and 6-year-old Rasheed
  • Five years in prison for each of the four unlawful stabbing convictions
  • 40 years in prison for the second degree murder of Crystal Ragin
  • Life in prison for arson

Evidence presented during the month-long trial indicated Ragin stabbed his wife, Crystal, and her children a total of 74 times before pouring gasoline on their bodies, burning one of the victims and trying to burn down their Old Courthouse Way apartment on August 18, 2011.

The jury convicted Ragin last week and closing arguments in the sentencing phase of the trial ended just before 4 p.m. Tuesday. The jury deliberated for about an hour Tuesday afternoon and returned Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday, the jury recommended all sentences for Ragin except for the capital murder sentence. Jury members could not reach a unanimous decision on the question of life or death, so the judge imposed the life in prison sentences for the capital murder convictions.

After the decision was announced, Crystal Ragin’s sister, Shelby Hancock was in shock and had no immediate comment as she was whisked away from the courthouse. John Ragin’s family was quickly driven away in a pickup truck, but his relative, Janelle Burton, gave her reaction to WAVY.com.

“My ex sister-in-law, my niece and my nephews are no longer here. The jury would not come up with a verdict. They got five for killing each of those three kids,” she said.

The prosecution, Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard Gwynn, argued for Ragin to serve the death penalty and shared his disappointment over the decision: “I certainly am disappointed. They didn’t give the punishment that we all thought was appropriate, but again, we live with the result.”

John Ragin, who claims his innocence and chose to testify in his defense only once, after his conviction, will now spend the rest of his life in prison without parole.

 Previous Coverage: Man convicted of quadruple murder faces death penalty

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