Guilty plea entered in Keytesville fatal shooting case

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A Keytesville man entered a guilty plea on May 10 to two felonies related to a shooting in Keytesville in January 2023 in which a man died.

Court records show 51-year-old James Michael Johnson Sr. pleaded guilty to first-degree assault or attempt and possession of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to 15 years in the Missouri Division of Adult Institutions for the assault charge and five years for the possession charge, with the sentences to run consecutively.

Johnson had initially faced charges of second-degree murder, unlawful possession of a firearm, delivery of a controlled substance, and conspiracy to commit a felony. Amended information was recently filed.

Fifty-three-year-old Sherri Laws of Keytesville pleaded guilty in December and was sentenced in February in connection with the same shooting. She received a 15-year sentence in the Division of Adult Institutions for second-degree murder and five years for armed criminal action, which are to run consecutively. Additionally, she was sentenced to 10 years for the delivery of a controlled substance, four years for unlawful use of a weapon, and 10 years for conspiracy to commit a felony. The charges for delivery of a controlled substance, unlawful use of a weapon, and conspiracy were to run concurrently but consecutively to the murder and armed criminal action charges.

The Highway Patrol reported that the charges followed the death of 38-year-old Jacob Abney of Grandview, who suffered gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene. Johnson also sustained gunshot wounds, was taken to the Moberly Regional Medical Center, and was subsequently flown to the University Hospital of Columbia.

The investigation began after Chariton County deputies were dispatched to a Keytesville residence in response to an altercation.


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