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Eric J. Harper 

A suspect has pled guilty to felony first-degree burglary in connection to a fatal 2018 Sedalia shooting.

Eric J. Harper, 26, of Chicago, was set for a jury trial in October after declining a plea agreement earlier this year. Harper said he was not pleased with the offered amended charge of robbery rather than attempted robbery, according to Pettis County Prosecuting Attorney Phillip Sawyer. 

Instead, a hearing was hosted Friday morning at the Pettis County Courthouse where Harper pleaded guilty to one count of felony first-degree burglary. Judge Robert Koffman sentenced him to 13 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections, as recommended by the state.

He was originally charged with first-degree assault, armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon in connection to the shooting death of 42-year-old Maurice Harper Sr., of Sedalia.

Harper was arrested April 15, 2018, the same day police found Maurice shot in the 300 block of North Summit Avenue. Sawyer said in June that Maurice had been struck several times in the chest. 

Eric’s brother, Antonio L. Harper, 30, of Maywood, Illinois, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree burglary in connection to the shooting. Koffman sentenced him to 15 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.

According to court documents, a Pettis County Sheriff’s Office deputy drove a witness of the shooting to SPD after the incident. On the way, the witness saw a man walking and identified him as the “shooter.” Officers and deputies arrested the man and later identified him as Eric.

A witness said he was buying marijuana at a house in the 300 block of North Summit Avenue for Maurice, who he said was waiting in a car a distance away, according to court documents. The witness said Eric and Antonio, who was armed with a handgun, arrived at the house and robbed him of $50. 

He claimed he then fled the house and saw Maurice still sitting in a vehicle. Gunshots rang out a short time later. 

Eric told SPD detectives a different account of events. He said he, Antonio and Maurice went to the North Summit house to buy drugs, according to court documents. He said Maurice and the second shooting victim “had been feuding over previous drug purchases” and a confrontation broke out between the two men. 

Eric said he left before the shooting began, but detectives reported finding blood spatter on his clothing. 

Maurice Harper died the same morning from his wounds at Bothwell Regional Health Center. A 28-year-old man was shot during the same incident and survived his injuries. 

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