A Grayson man charged with manslaughter has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

Brian K. Rice, 39, appeared in Carter Circuit Court Monday to plead guilty to facilitation to manslaughter, a Class D felony, in the 2012 New Year’s Day beating and subsequent death of Heath Toney.

Rice made the plea agreement with former Commonwealth’s Attorney Gary Conn in exchange for future testimony against co-defendant Clifford “Boomer” Cathey.

Conn left office at the end of December and was replaced by Brandon Ison.

Rice and Cathey, both of Grayson, were indicted for first degree manslaughter, a Class B felony, in February 2012.

During the proceedings it became apparent that the victim’s family members were unhappy with the plea agreement.

“We were not asked about this agreement,” April Frazier, Toney’s sister, told the court. “I feel like, given Mr. Rice’s past criminal history, that he poses a huge threat to our community. My brother has three young children who are terrified that they will be next. Nothing will bring my brother back, but we can go forward by saying this is not OK.”

Although the agreement was made by his predecessor, Commonwealth’s Attorney Brandon Ison said he felt that his hands were tied in the situation.

“I understand why this agreement way made, because it will help the prosecution in the other case,” Ison said. “I just ask that the court accept the maximum sentence.”

Rice was sentenced to five years, which will run consecutively with any other time he may be required to serve. Rice was out on parole when the Toney beating occurred.

Toney was in an unresponsive coma in the neuro intensive care unit at Cabell-Huntington Hospital for 13 days before he succumbed to his injuries.

Cathey is scheduled to appear in Circuit Court for a status hearing on Monday, Feb. 18, at 10 a.m.

Leeann Akers can be reached at lakers@journal-times.com or by phone at 474-5101.

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