An Auxvasse man was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to a second-degree murder charge in connection with a shooting death in April 2019.
According to Callaway County Prosecutor Christopher Wilson, Joey Russell Morris, 30, of Auxvasse, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, attempted possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) and forgery during a hearing before Callaway County Judge Jeff Harris.
Morris admitted his role in the shooting death of Nathan Pritchett Jr., saying he and two other men arranged to purchase methamphetamine from Pritchett in a rural area of Callaway County. Morris admitted he, William Schoening- Scoggins, 24, of Fulton, and a third man, Justin Ray Witt, 48, of Fulton, traveled to the meeting spot for the transaction and brought counterfeit money to make the purchase. Pritchett discovered the money was fake and an argument ensued. Morris admitted Pritchett was killed when he was allegedly shot by Witt during the argument and the commission of the drug and forgery felonies.
Wilson said Morris and Schoening-Scoggins were charged under Missouri's felony-murder rule, which makes a person criminally liable for the killing of any other person while a defendant is engaged in the commission of a felony offense.
Judge Harris sentenced Morris to four years in prison for the drug and forgery charges and 12 years in prison for the murder charge. Morris must serve 85 percent of the 12-year sentence before he is eligible for parole.
Schoening-Scoggins was sentenced to the same prison terms in November 2019 when he pleaded guilty to the same charges.
Witt is charged with second-degree murder, armed criminal action, unlawful possession of a firearm, forgery, attempted stealing of a controlled substance and attempted possession of a controlled substance.
Court documents state a 20-gauge shotgun was located in the vehicle at Witt's residence during the execution of a search warrant. In addition, counterfeit U.S. currency was found in Witt's residence, according to the documents. Also, a 20-gauge shotgun round was found in Witt's pocket at the time of his arrest. He is scheduled to have a hearing before Callaway County Judge Kevin Crane in May.