COLUMBIA — Three people have been charged with second-degree murder after a robbery went wrong and left one man dead Tuesday, police said.
She’aun Prince, 22, Deshai Richardson, 23, and Darrius Kendal Edwards, 22, all of Columbia, were charged with second-degree murder. Police said Derrick Brookins, 44, who was fatally shot, joined the other three suspects to rob an apartment at 920 W. Texas Ave.
The probable-cause statements for the three suspects give the following account:
The apartment's resident, referred to as "R.B. III" in court documents, said two men and a woman — later identified as Edwards, Brookins and Richardson — entered his home and pointed two handguns at him. A struggle ensued in the living room, and R.B. III shot both men. Brookins was found dead in the apartment's bathroom with a gun between his legs, and the other two ran to a car waiting outside.
Police said Prince, who was waiting in the car, drove Edwards to the emergency room at Women's and Children's Hospital to be treated for his non-life-threatening gunshot wounds. Surveillance video shows Edwards and Richardson entering the hospital together at 1:45 p.m., and six minutes later hospital staff informed police that a gunshot victim had checked in.
Police responded to the apartment at 1:39 p.m., where they found Brookins' body and R.B. III, who had returned to his apartment after initially running away. Officers found several shell casings on the living room floor and multiple bullet holes in the south living room wall. They also observed a "strong odor of marijuana."
When police questioned him in the hospital, Edwards initially denied going to R.B. III's apartment. Later, he said he went there to buy marijuana and, while in the apartment, saw a man pull a gun. Edwards said he fled to the street during the fight and then realized he’d been shot. A woman he didn't know took him to the hospital, he said.
On Wednesday morning, Richardson called Detective Joe Jackson to tell him she was the person who drove Edwards to the hospital. She initially said she came across Edwards "hobbling" on Demaret Drive, but after her arrest she recanted. She said she planned the robbery with Prince, Edwards and Brookins the night before at the home of somebody whom court documents call "T.C."
She said she entered R.B. III's apartment with Edwards and Brookins, who were both carrying guns, while Prince moved from the back seat of the car to the driver’s seat. Richardson said she entered the building last. Edwards and Brookins “bum rushed” R.B. III, she said. Several shots were fired, but she said she didn’t see who fired them. She watched Brookins fall to the bathroom floor, and she helped Edwards to the car.
Prince admitted to being at T.C.'s but didn't say anything further to investigators.
Prince and Richardson were being held in Boone County Jail on $1 million cash bonds Thursday afternoon. When Edwards is released from the hospital, he will also be taken to Boone County Jail.
Dan Knight, the Boone County prosecuting attorney, could not comment on the details of the case, but said legal aspects such as self-defense play into a case like this.
Knight said two forms of second-degree murder exist in Missouri: conventional murder, which involves the direct act of killing somebody, and felony murder, where somebody dies from an act of defense of an illegal action.
Moreover, accomplice liability holds that whoever helps commit a crime can be held responsible for its consequences, he said. Even the getaway driver can be charged.
Second-degree murder carries a sentence of 10 years to life in prison, Knight said.