JC man sentenced to life in prison for 2019 homicides

A Jefferson City man was sentenced to life in prison Monday for a 2019 double homicide.

Torry Upchurch, 31, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder, both of which carry life sentences.

Reports from the Jefferson City Police Department show the first shooting occurred about 6 p.m. Nov. 28, Thanksgiving night, in the 1300 block of West McCarty Street.

Officers found Earle Key Jr., 17, of Jefferson City, suffering from a gunshot wound inside the home. Upon examination, emergency medical personnel determined he was dead.

Upchurch knocked on the front door of the apartment where Key, whom he reportedly knew, was staying, according to a Jefferson City Police Department probable cause statement. When Key opened the door, Upchurch allegedly shot him in the face with a 9mm handgun, killing him instantly.

Witnesses reported seeing a man, believed to be Upchurch, dressed in dark clothing running from the scene and behind residences in the area. Officers conducted a search of the area but were unable to locate him.

The second incident occurred at 8:44 p.m. the same day, when the Jefferson City Communications Center received multiple calls about shots fired in the 2300 block of Southridge Drive. Officers found Shantae Hill-Cook, 33, of Columbia, lying in the street suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Emergency medical personnel on the scene determined she was dead as a result of those injuries.

A JCPD probable cause statement said a witness told officers Hill-Cook and Upchurch had been in a romantic relationship for a few months prior.

The witness said Upchurch had been upset with Hill-Cook for wanting to assist the witness with her belongings and child. Upchurch allegedly told Hill-Cook multiple times to "stay in the car" before pulling out a handgun and firing, striking her numerous times.

Upchurch reportedly fled the area in Hill-Cook's car prior to the officers' arrival. He eventually drove to the Jefferson City Police Department on Monroe Street, dressed in black clothing and covered in blood. He allegedly entered the lobby of the police headquarters and said, "I know I committed two murders."

Officers arrested Upchurch and, during his initial interview, he reportedly implicated himself in both homicides, specifically saying he had shot Hill-Cook in the temple.

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