Accused Indy ‘Purge’ killer pleads guilty in case, avoids death penalty

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

UPDATE: Accomplice Steven Clark was sentenced to 16 years in the Department of Correction with 373 days credit for time served.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Indianapolis “Purge” killer pleaded guilty in his case Friday and will avoid a possible death penalty trial.

Johnathan Cruz pleaded guilty to three murders during Friday’s hearing. Prosecutors had recommended the death penalty in the case.

Cruz is accused of killing three people in a four-day span in a series of slaying inspired by the “Purge” movie series.

The murders occurred between May 12 and May 15 in 2016, resulting in the deaths of Billy Boyd, Jay Higginbotham and Jose Alberto Ruiz.

According to court documents, he picked his victims at random and referenced the movie series. In July 2016, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said Cruz “killed for sport” and suggested that the case “could not be more appropriate for consideration for capital punishment.”

Cruz will receive three consecutive life sentences without parole. Sentencing is scheduled for May 11.

“Pursuant to this agreement, Johnathan Cruz has admitted to the absolutely senseless murders of Billy Boyd, Jay Higginbotham, and Jose Ruiz, for which he will spend his life in prison with no possibility of parole,” said Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry. “We are pleased that this resolution will provide certainty and finality for the families of Billy Boyd, Jay Higginbotham and Jose Ruiz.”

A second defendant, Elijah Brooks, faces two counts of felony murder for his alleged involvement murders of Boyd and Higginbotham. A third defendant, Steven Clark (aka Rayvaughn Wood), has been charged with armed robbery for his alleged involvement in the May 14, 2016 robbery. Both of those cases remain pending in court.