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story.lead_photo.caption Jahuan Whirley

A Cole County judge has denied a motion filed by the public defender for a Jefferson City teenager accused of murder asking for his client's charge to be reduced from first-degree murder to second-degree murder, which was the original charge in the case.

Jahuan Whirley, 17, was certified as an adult and charged in connection to the Dec. 12, 2018, shooting that killed Justin Kammerich, 33.

Whirley's case had been scheduled to go to trial before Cole County Presiding Judge Jon Beetem last September. A jury had been selected Sept. 11, but they were not sworn in. On Sept. 14, prosecutors asked for a continuance after they learned they could test for possible DNA evidence on a pistol located in Whirley's residence. Prosecutors told Beetem they planned to dismiss the case if they weren't granted the continuance and refile charges against Whirley. Beetem granted the continuance.

On Nov. 4, prosecutors filed a superseding indictment where they charged Whirley with first-degree murder and planned to ask that he be given life in prison without parole if convicted because tests reportedly confirmed Whirley's DNA was found on the gun in question.

Whirley's public defender, Justin Carver, told Beetem during a hearing last month that prosecutors were past the time they had to file their superseding indictment under case law. He asked Beetem to dismiss the first-degree murder charge and keep the charge against his client at second-degree murder, where the range of punishment is 10-30 years in prison or life in prison without parole, if convicted.

Beetem's decision to deny Carver's request was filed Monday, according to online court records. Both sides plan to be back in Beetem's court in June for a pre-trial conference to see if they are on track to have a trial, which is now scheduled for September.

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