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Shooter pleads guilty to Halloween killing in Spokane

Jonathan H. Espinoza, 26, faces up to 32 years in prison

Halloween gunfire that killed a man trying to break up a fight in downtown Spokane will send the triggerman to prison for at least 24 years in a plea deal approved recently in Spokane County Superior Court.

Jonathan H. Espinoza, 26, faces up to 32 years in prison for a shooting outside The Blvd Tavern that killed Joshua D. Ridgely, 22, and injured two of Ridgely’s friends, Ryan R. Jackson and Michelle M. Wilcox. The bottom of the standard sentencing range is 24 years.

Espinoza opened fire on a crowd outside the bar shortly after midnight on Nov. 1, 2008, after grabbing a gun from a friend, Matthew R. Jones.

Jones, 26, told police he’d fired one shot into the air before Espinoza grabbed the weapon and said “This is how you do it.”

Jones pleaded guilty last summer to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Espinoza pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree murder, first-degree assault and second-degree assault. He remains in jail awaiting sentencing.

The shooting came after a fight broke out in a crowded parking lot outside the bar, 333 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

An associate of Jones and Espinoza was involved, and Espinoza instructed Jones to get a gun from the car they arrived in before he grabbed it from him and fired multiple rounds, according to court documents.

Ridgely, a 2004 University High School graduate who installed windows for his brother’s company, was hit in the chest and died in the parking lot.

Bullets hit Jackson and Wilcox and narrowly missed at least three others, including Summer Jackson, who was Ridgely’s girlfriend and Jackson’s sister, police said.

The plea deal approved by Judge Michael Price last week dismissed three counts of attempted murder in connection with the stray bullets.

Espinoza and Jones were arrested Nov. 3 after a friend who previously told detectives he didn’t know the shooters broke down in an interrogation room, police said.

Espinoza already was a convicted felon prohibited from possessing firearms. His record includes a conviction for felony possession of a controlled substance.