Prosecutor to seek death penalty in ‘Purge’ killing spree, says killings were ‘for sport’

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry will seek the death penalty after a “Purge-style” crime spree earlier this year in Indianapolis.

Johnathan Cruz, 19, is accused of committing three murders between May 12 and May 15, resulting in the deaths of Billy Boyd, Jay Higginbotham and Jose Alberto Ruiz.

"The killings that occurred here are beyond senseless," Curry said Tuesday morning. "(The victims) were killed for no reason whatsoever."

Jonathan Cruz

Jonathan Cruz

On May 12, police said Cruz killed Boyd and Higginbotham. Days later, he’s accused of killing Ruiz. Police also believe he kidnapped a woman at gunpoint; the woman told police Cruz was killing and robbing victims on the east side.

According to court documents, Cruz picked his victims at random and sent text messages that referenced the “Purge” series of movies. He was arrested on May 16. Charges against him include murder, attempted robbery, armed robbery and criminal gang enhancement.

"Quite simply, we allege that these were killings for sport and could not be more appropriate for consideration for capital punishment," Curry said.

Curry said he met with families of the victims and consulted defense counsel before deciding to pursue the death penalty.

Police Chief Troy Riggs thanked Curry and his office for their quick work in the case. Riggs said officers thought the case simply felt "different" while they were first investigating it and believes there may have been more victims if detectives hadn't put the pieces together.

This is the fourth time Curry has sought the death penalty in a case.  Thomas Hardy, charged in the murder of Metro Police Officer David Moore, and Kenneth Rackemann, charged in a 2014 quadruple murder, each avoided death sentences by entering into plea agreements.  They're both serving life without parol, plus additional years.  The trial of Major Davis II, charged with the murder of IMPD Officer Perry Renn, is still pending.  His next court date is September 2nd.

Cruz is due in court Thursday for a pretrial conference.  His 20th birthday is coming up on Saturday.

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