Missouri judge upgrades charges to first-degree murder for drifter's death

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 | 4:57 p.m. CST; updated 10:05 p.m. CST, Wednesday, January 13, 2010

MEXICO, Mo. — A judge has agreed to charge a northeast Missouri truck driver and his son with first-degree murder in the suffocation death of a 20-year-old drifter.

Audrain County Associate Circuit Judge Linda Hamlett on Wednesday granted a prosecutor's request to amend the original charges against Chester "C.J." Harvey of Laddonia and his son, Chad Harvey of Eolia.

Both are charged in the Dec. 18 death of James McNeely.

Chester Harvey is also charged with kidnapping for allegedly keeping his 9-year-old son hostage during a police standoff.

KXEO-AM reports that prosecutor Jacob Shellabarger said he hasn't decided whether to seek the death penalty against the Harveys and Chester's wife, Angela. She and the Harveys' two teenage sons also are charged with first-degree murder.

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