JEFFERSON CITY — Three more of the 16 people suspected of being involved in a Columbia gang pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges including conspiracy to distribute illegal drugs.
Brandon James Isom, 19, of Columbia pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and use of a communication device to distribute illegal drugs.
Robert Lee Jones, 19, of Kansas City pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, possession with intent to distribute cocaine base and marijuana, use of a communication device to facilitate illegal drug distribution and possession of a weapon while previously convicted.
He also pleaded not guilty to another conspiracy charge that includes possession of firearms with intent to harm and intimidate and firing a gun into a group of two or more people.
Dajuan Anthony Harris, 25, pleaded not guilty to the charges of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, use of a communication device to facilitate illegal drug distribution and possession of firearms while previously convicted.
He is also charged with possession of a stolen firearm and another conspiracy charge that includes possession of firearms with intent to harm and intimidate and fire a gun into a group of two or more people.
The three men entered their pleas before U.S. Magistrate William A. Knox in the central division of the U.S. Court for the Western District of Missouri.
Knox ruled to have the suspects remain in custody until future pretrial hearings, but he scheduled additional pretrial hearings in which he would consider releasing Jones and Isom into the custody of their families.
The release conditions could include house arrest with some type of a monitoring device, such as an ankle bracelet or GPS, taking GED classes and posting bail, Knox said.
Among the evidence introduced against the three men by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence E. Miller on Wednesday was evidence obtained during searches as well as an FBI witness and wire-tap recordings.
On April 25, 2008, authorities found a firearm, body armor and drug paraphernalia where Jones was believed to be staying in Columbia, Miller said.
But, Jones’s attorney, Troy Stabenow, argued that this was not his primary residence and the items could have belonged to other people who lived in the home.
Cheviss Caron Denny, 20, Donna C. Coats, 39, Michael Lee Stapleton, 22, and Robert Darnell Simmons, 36, were charged earlier in the week for various charges related to alleged gang activity and drug distribution. They are currently scheduled for trial on July 20.