Antonio Harper

Antonio Harper

A suspect in a fatal 2018 Sedalia shooting has accepted a plea agreement.

Antonio L. Harper, 30, of Maywood, Illinois, was set for a bench trial Tuesday with Judge Robert Koffman after waiving his right to a jury trial last week. Instead, a hearing was hosted Tuesday morning at the Pettis County Courthouse where Harper pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree burglary. Koffman sentenced him to 15 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections, the maximum sentence for that charge, according to Pettis County Prosecuting Attorney Phillip Sawyer.

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

Antonio Harper’s brother, Eric J. Harper, 26, of Chicago, is charged with first-degree assault, armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon.

He was set for trial in May, but it was canceled to host a plea hearing. Eric was offered his own plea agreement but declined the offer, saying he was not pleased with the amended charge of robbery rather than attempted robbery according to Sawyer. His jury trial has been rescheduled for Oct. 22-24 at the Pettis County Courthouse. 

Sedalia Police Department officers found Maurice with gunshot wounds April 15, 2018, in the 300 block of North Summit Avenue. He died later that day at Bothwell Regional Health Center. Sawyer said Tuesday that Maurice had been struck several times in the chest. A 28-year-old man was shot during the same incident and survived his injuries. 

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. 

A female witness in the home said Antonio had an injury to his hand, which Sawyer said Tuesday came from a gunshot from the other victim during the incident. When Antonio was arrested days later in the Warrenton area, police reportedly found he had an injury consistent with her description. 

“During a spontaneous statement to a deputy, Antonio Harper implicated himself in the shooting and stated he did not fire his weapon until he was shot at,” court documents state. “Antonio Harper would not make any further statements.” 

Antonio has convictions of resisting arrest, battery and possession of marijuana. Eric has been convicted multiple times of robbery. Both are in custody at the Pettis County Jail.

Editor

Nicole Cooke is the editor for the Sedalia Democrat, overseeing all newsroom operations and assisting with news coverage of Sedalia and Pettis County. She can be reached at 660-530-0138 or on Twitter @NicoleRCooke.

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