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Murder charge filed in JC shooting

by Phillip Sitter | June 9, 2020 at 5:12 a.m. | Updated June 9, 2020 at 4:31 p.m.

The Jefferson City man previously charged with first-degree assault in the shooting of 18-year-old Orentheus Pitts was instead charged Monday with second-degree murder after Pitts' subsequent death.

An 18-year-old from Jefferson City and a 17-year-old from Holts Summit also face new or modified felony charges of stealing in relation to the alleged robbery during a drug deal last week that led to the shooting.

Pitts was a former Jefferson City Jays football player who was a backup running back on the team last year. Hundreds of people - friends, family, coaches, members of the Jays boosters and school staff - attended a prayer service Thursday for him.

Pitts was in critical condition after the shooting. A family spokesman - Pastor Jon Nelson, of Soma Community Church - said at the prayer service that Pitts had lost a lot of blood, which had led to severe damage to his brain.

Nelson told the News Tribune that Pitts succumbed to his injuries Monday morning.

Landon Latall, 21, of Jefferson City, was charged Monday with second-degree murder in Pitts' death.

According to the Jefferson City Police Department, Latall drove to the Walgreens on West Truman Boulevard on June 1 as part of a pre-arranged meeting to sell Pitts marijuana.

Jamari Todd, 17, of Jefferson City, allegedly drove Pitts and two others - Darrell Jones, 17, of Holts Summit, and Byron Brown, 18, of Jefferson City - to the Walgreens parking lot to purchase a small amount of marijuana.

As Latall pulled into the parking lot, the group allegedly discussed robbing him of the marijuana. Pitts and Jones then allegedly exited the vehicle and approached Latall's vehicle, and Pitts was then shot at Latall's driver-side door.

Jones corroborated that account of events from Todd, according to police.

Pitts took the marijuana without paying for it, according to police.

"There was no physical altercation or force used against Latall when the narcotics he possessed were taken from him," according to a police probable cause statement. The statement adds that photographs taken of Latall did not show any signs of injury or being in an altercation that would make him fearful of his life to justify the use of deadly force.

Latall shot Pitts at least two times, according to police.

Todd told police he heard five shots. Todd added he eventually threw the stolen marijuana into the woods and Pitts' money down a stormwater drain. A JCPD detective recovered both - a bag of approximately eight grams of marijuana, and $40.

Latall turned himself in to police after leaving the scene and told officers he had used the firearm in his vehicle in self-defense, according to police.

Second-degree murder is a class A felony. The charging document filed with the Cole County Circuit Court notes, if convicted, an individual sentenced for the offense would not be eligible for parole until 85 percent of the sentence is served. Missouri law adds that the punishment for second-degree murder shall be added to that for the commission of any related felony.

Latall also has been charged with the class E felony of delivery of a controlled substance and the felony of armed criminal action; those charges did not change Monday. He has been denied bond.

Todd has been charged with stealing and tampering with physical evidence, and no changes were made Monday. He posted $5,000 bond Thursday.

Jones had been charged with the class D felony of stealing, according to online court records, but that charge was amended Monday to a class E felony charge of stealing. He posted $5,000 bond Thursday.

Brown was also charged Monday with the class E felony of stealing. His bond was set at $5,000.

Jones and Todd were at the prayer service for Pitts last week, where a message of forgiveness by Pitts' mother was relayed to them.

The Southwest Boulevard branch of Jefferson Bank confirmed Monday that contributions are being accepted there - 700 Southwest Blvd., Jefferson City, 65109 - to the Orentheus Pitts Memorial Fund.

People making a contribution in-person or by mail are asked to make sure their contribution is payable to the memorial fund.

Nelson added people can make a contribution at any Jefferson Bank or Central Bank location.

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