Maylee pleads guilty to triple murder

Holts Summit man avoids death penalty, receives four life-terms

Joshua Maylee, 26, Holts Summit, avoids the death penalty, receiving four life-terms for killing three people and trying to kill a fourth.

Joshua Maylee, 26, Holts Summit, avoids the death penalty, receiving four life-terms for killing three people and trying to kill a fourth.

Joshua W. Maylee, 26, Holts Summit, will spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty Monday to killing three Callaway County residents and trying to kill a fourth.

Maylee was charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree assault for an attempted murder in a shooting spree on Oct. 26, 2010, in the Holts Summit area.

He gunned down Allen and Jackie Pinet at their home in Holts Summit as well as Jeff Werdehausen of Callaway County later in the evening. Maylee also was charged with attempting to kill Werdehausen’s wife, Gina, who survived a gunshot wound.

Callaway County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Wilson earlier had declared his intention to seek the death penalty in the triple homicide.

On Monday, Maylee pleaded guilty to the murder charges before Circuit Judge Kevin Crane in Boone County Circuit Court.

Crane immediately sentenced Maylee to life in prison, without the possibility of parole, on each of the murder charges, and a life sentence with a parole possibility on the first-degree assault charge in the attempted murder.

Crane ordered the sentences to be served consecutively rather than at the same time.

In Missouri law, a “life” sentence is defined as 30 years.

Officials said the consecutive sentences are an attempt to make sure that Maylee never will be released from prison.

Contacted in Fulton after Monday’s hearing in Columbia, Wilson said about two weeks ago he received a plea bargain offer from Maylee’s public defender attorneys, saying Maylee would agree to plead guilty to all four charges and accept a life sentence for each of them.

Before making a decision on the offer, Wilson consulted with the Missouri attorney general’s office and all of the victims’ surviving relatives.

Wilson said in weighing the offer, he and the others had to consider the certainty of the outcome of life in prison without the possibility of parole, against the uncertainty of a first-degree murder conviction in a jury trial and the possibility of a successful appeal of a conviction.

Wilson said the victims’ family members all recommended acceptance of the guilty plea with the understanding that the penalty would be life in prison.

“For me, personally,” Wilson said, “it was sort of a hollow victory.

“Obviously, I believed in seeking the death penalty in this case and that’s why I filed a motion declaring my intention of seeking the death penalty.”

Wilson said Maylee never revealed his motive for the slayings, but investigators believe his motive was related to thefts Maylee was accused of prior to the murders.

Maylee was arrested on a theft charge on a warrant issued on Oct. 10, 2010, and was released on a $4,500 bond. He was accused of stealing a red Mahindra tractor from William Esen of Holts Summit.

Missouri Highway Patrol Sgt. Jason P. Clark wrote a probable cause arrest statement to the court stating Maylee admitted stealing the tractor and keeping it at his home for several weeks before selling it for $2,500.

On Oct. 29, 2010, Maylee was arrested on the murder charges and another theft charge filed on Oct. 27, the day after the murders.

In that theft case, Maylee was accused then of stealing a zero-turn mower from Donald Hanson of Kingdom City.

Clark testified at Maylee’s preliminary hearing that, during the theft investigations, he and another patrol officer drove Maylee by the Pinet residence a few months prior to the murders. Maylee pointed out what he contended was a stolen zero-turn mower in the yard of the Pinet residence.

Clark said Maylee was being driven around by patrol investigators to various places and Maylee would point out stolen property.

During Maylee’s preliminary hearing, Clark testified Maylee had complained that he had been threatened by the Pinet and Werdehausen families.

The patrolman testified he was unsure how many times Maylee made the complaints, but estimated it was more than three and less than five. He said those alleged threats came between July and the day of the homicides on Oct. 26.

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