Man pleads guilty to Oklahoma bookstore owner’s murder

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OKLAHOMA CITY – A man has pleaded guilty in the death of a bookstore owner, whose body was found inside his burning building last year.

In September of 2017, firefighters responded to a fire at 30 Penn Books, located on the corner of N.W. 30th St. and N. Pennsylvania Ave.

“When our crews arrived, there was a significant amount of brown smoke coming from the structure,” said Oklahoma City Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike Walker.

He said the store was likely closed at the time because every door was locked.

Man’s body found burned inside bookstore

“We had to force entry to get inside the structure,” Walker said.

He said the fire was about 20 feet from the front door in the main part of the store.

“Once we started doing our salvage and overhaul, we did a secondary search, what we normally do,” Walker said. “It was at that time we found one deceased adult male.”

Authorities say the body of the store owner, 66-year-old Kelly Hays, was found under a pile of books inside the business.  The medical examiner later determined that Hays had been stabbed numerous times before the fire was set.

Kelly Hays

After releasing a photo of a man seen at the bookstore shortly before the fire started, authorities arrested 42-year-old Kenton Eugene Busby on one count of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson.

Kenton Busby

On Monday, Busby pleaded guilty to the charges in the case, and waived his right to an appeal.

While in court, he said, “I know nothing I say will stop the pain, but I’m sorry I killed Kelly Hays.”

Prosecutors say they still don’t have a motive for the murder, and Busby has said that even he doesn’t know why he killed Hays.

He now faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.