COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Domionte Cheatum was found guilty of second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and armed criminal action late in the evening on Thursday at the Boone County Court House.
The audience gasped as the verdict was read by Judge Christine Carpenter, guilty for murder in the second degree. Tears and sobs erupted from both sides of the aisles as the family of victim Anthony Unger held hands, and the members of Cheatumâ€™s shouted and tried to leave.
â€śI got to get out of here,â€ť Cheatumâ€™s mother screamed through her tears. â€śMy baby didnâ€™t do nothing. Let me out! Why did they do that to my baby?!â€ť
A wall of court marshals barricaded the family and friends of Cheatum as they shouted and screamed profanities at the police as they tried and demanded to leave. The officers kept them in the courtroom until the jury had left the building.
Defense attorney Derek Roe watched the outburst with a look of despair before staring at his feet. The sentencing hearing has not been scheduled yet. Cheatum was currently serving a seven-year sentence after pleading guilty for distribution of a controlled substance in September 2013.
Unger was found in a parking lot on Conley Road in Columbia with six wounds from a .40-caliber handgun on June 23, 2013. He was killed while trying to sell a large amount of marijuana to Cheatum, witness Joycelynn Brown said.
Cheatum was accompanied by Samuel Butler, who also testified against Cheatum for the prosecution. Butler is being charged for the same charges as Cheatum, but was told by the prosecution he would be considered for leniency if his testimony proved useful.
Butler admitted he arranged the drug deal with his friend, Unger, but intended to pay for the drugs with counterfeit money provided by Cheatum. The police never found the counterfeit money and the claims that Cheatum supplied it was never substantiated, Roe said. He also sought to pin the shooting on Butler.
Roe concluded that Butler and Brown had known each other and planned their actions and excuses, he said during his closing statements. During the first day of the trial, defense attorney Jeremy Pilkington called Brown a liar and aggressively inquired about her relationship with Butler.
Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Morrell called several expert witnesses Thursday, including detectives, medical examiners, ballistic experts and crime scene processors form the Missouri Highway Patrol. The experts agreed on the details off the case regarding when and where the victim was killed.
However, two detectives that have been involved in the case since the start of it, Jonathan Voss and Joseph Jackson, reported that Butler and Brownâ€™s statements changed repeatedly between interviews. Roe pointed this out to the jury by citing the changes in the detectiveâ€™s notes.