Man's trial to begin over 2013 drug-related homicide

Tuesday, June 10, 2014 | 5:56 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The man who police think pulled the trigger in the June 2013 shooting death of a Jefferson City man during a drug deal goes to trial Wednesday. 

Domionte Cheatum of Kansas City is charged with second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and armed criminal action in connection with the death of Anthony Unger, according to court documents.

Unger was shot several times June 23, 2013, in a parking lot at 21 Conley Road, according to the probable-cause statement. He had gone with Joycelynn Brown to Columbia to sell a half-pound of marijuana for $1,400 to a man who was later identified as Samuel Butler, according to previous Missourian reporting.

Brown told investigators that during the drug deal, a man pulled a handgun and told Unger to give him the marijuana, which was hidden under the hood of Brown’s car, according to court documents. Brown told investigators that after seeing the gun, she ran from the car and heard gunshots.

Police found Unger’s body at the scene shortly after 11 p.m. Court records allege that Butler had set up the deal so he and Cheatum could rob Unger of the marijuana.

A man identified as "T.M." in the probable-cause statement told investigators that Cheatum told him several days after Unger was shot that "he had to do what he had to do."

But Cheatum's alibi, according to his lawyer's filing, is that he was with someone at a park near Hickman High School at the time of the shooting and that a woman picked him up on Paris Road sometime after 11 p.m.

Circuit Court Judge Christine Carpenter approved a motion to allow Cheatum to appear in street clothes at a hearing Monday. He is serving a seven-year sentence in Moberly Correctional Center, having pleaded guilty in 2013 to the delivery, distribution, manufacturing and possession of a controlled substance.

Butler and Brown were arrested June 24, 2013, and each was charged with second-degree murder. Neither was suspected of shooting Unger, but according to the Missouri Revised Statutes, a person can be charged with second-degree murder if that person is knowingly responsible for someone's death, or if another person is killed during a felony, or an attempted felony.

On Aug. 16, 2013, Brown's charges were amended to distribution, delivery, manufacturing or producing a controlled substance. She is no longer charged with second-degree murder. 

Butler is charged with second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and armed criminal action.

Butler is scheduled to appear in court June 23, and his trial is set for July 2, according to Missouri Casenet. Brown's hearing is scheduled for July 28, with her trial set for Aug. 13.

Supervising editor is Katherine Reed.

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