Birkhead pleads guilty to involvement in homeless man's death

Monday, June 20, 2011 | 6:36 p.m. CDT; updated 7:22 p.m. CDT, Monday, June 20, 2011

COLUMBIA – A 50-year-old man was sentenced to 18 years in prison Monday for armed criminal action and voluntary manslaughter. 

Travis Grant Birkhead pleaded guilty to the October murder of Jerry Edward Schneider. Birkhead is said to have acted with Ricky Lee Gaddy. All three men were a part of Columbia's homeless community.

Birkhead appeared with public defender Derek Roe before Judge Christine Carpenter in the Boone County Courthouse.

He originally pleaded not guilty to armed criminal action and second-degree murder May 2. His trial was scheduled to begin July 13.

Gaddy pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and armed criminal action earlier this month. He was sentenced to life in prison, plus another 20 years, according to a previous Missourian report.

Birkhead told police he was walking with Gaddy on Oct. 23 when Gaddy told him he was going to murder Schneider. He said he witnessed Gaddy hit Schneider repeatedly with a concrete block until Schneider stopped breathing. Police said Birkhead then stabbed Schneider.

Schneider’s body was found in the parking lot of the old Everett’s restaurant on Oct. 24. Birkhead and Gaddy were arrested Jan. 18 on suspicion of armed criminal action and first-degree murder.

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