Jul. 27—The man who admitted last month to killing a Fairfield woman in 2019 was sentenced to at least 17 years in prison.
Kirby Cheong, 30, of Miamisburg, was arrested in March 2020 in Montgomery County, charged with murder in the homicide of 23-year-old Katherine Lobono, of Fairfield, and two felonious assault charges. A trial was supposed to start this month, but Cheong pleaded guilty in late June to the lesser charges of involuntary manslaughter with a gun specification and tampering with evidence.
Butler County Common Pleas Judge Noah Powers II sentenced Cheong on Monday on the involuntary manslaughter count to 14 to 19 1/2 years and three years on the tampering with evidence charge. Cheong will be eligible for parole after 17 years in prison and could serve a maximum of 22 1/2 years, according to court records.
He must also pay $20,000 in restitution to Lobono's family, according to the sentencing order.
Lobono was killed in her Villages of Wildwood apartment off Ross Road in Fairfield, according to police. She suffered multiple gunshot wounds and other injuries, including ligature marks on her neck, according to the Butler County Coroner's Office report. She was discovered on the floor of her apartment by friends who were dog-sitting, according to a 911 call.
Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser told the Journal-News some of the evidence was "contaminated" because there were "too many people" prior to the police investigation involving the crime-scene evidence, which led to the plea bargain. Gmoser said the police investigation was "excellent" and Lobono's family was consulted before the plea deal was offered, he said.
Gmoser said he's content with the outcome and the fact that Cheong did admit guilt in Lobono's death.
"I generally don't do agreed sentences, but when I want to make sure there's not a failure of justice, I make exceptions to that," said the prosecutor.
Lobono "was super bubbly," said former co-worker Emily Merkle, who worked with Lobono at Sports Clips in Harrison.
"She was in here just having a great time every single day," Merkle said. "She lit up the salon every single day, and I think she was like that in everybody's life."
Lobono's family said, "She had a zest for life" and she "knew no strangers."
Lobono grew up in Cincinnati's west side, first attending the all-girls Catholic high school Seton and graduating in 2014 from Purcell Marian, a co-ed Catholic high school just west of Clifton.
The family has suggested any donations to remember Lobono can be made to the Peppermint Pig Animal Rescue at peppermintpiganimalrescue.org.