Keytesville woman charged with second-degree murder enters plea of “Not Guilty”

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A Keytesville woman charged with second-degree murder after an investigation into a shooting at Keytesville on January 20th entered a plea of not guilty on January 25th. 52-year-old Sherri Laws waived formal arraignment, and her case was continued to March 14th.

She has also been charged with the felonies of armed criminal action, delivery of a controlled substance, and two counts of tampering with physical evidence in a felony prosecution.

The Highway Patrol reported Laws was charged after 38-year-old Jacob Abney of Grandview suffered gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene of the incident. Fifty-year-old James Johnson of Keytesville also received gunshot wounds, was taken to the Moberly Regional Medical Center, and was flown to the University Hospital of Columbia.

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

A probable cause statement says Laws contacted the Chariton County 911 dispatch and said an unknown man attempted to break into her home, Johnson was shot, and she had shot the unknown man two times. A deputy found the man dead in a pickup truck, and he was later identified as Abney. Johnson was said to be Laws’s fiance.

During a post-Miranda interview, Laws reportedly told law enforcement Abney came to her residence to purchase seven to eight pounds of marijuana for $6,000, and Johnson allowed Abney to enter. Evidence at the scene indicated Abney was shot and killed during the perpetration of the attempted sale of a felony amount of marijuana.

The probable cause statement says Laws stated Abney fired a handgun in the residence, forced her to bind Johnson’s hands with tape, and stole the marijuana. She allegedly got a nine-millimeter handgun and gave it to Johnson, and they followed Abney outside where gunfire was exchanged.

The Highway Patrol reported an autopsy of Abney’s body was scheduled for this week.

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