Sikeston man found guilty of murder

Monday, February 6, 2006

Sikeston Standard-Democrat

CHARLESTON, Mo. -- A Sikeston, Mo., man was found guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action during a jury trial Friday.

After deliberating for about 50 minutes, the seven men and five women of the jury found Randy Lamon McKeller, 24, guilty for the shooting death of Trevor Neal on May 24, 2003, at the corner of Dixie and Osage streets on Sikeston's west end.

McKeller, who was soft-spoken and reserved during the two-day trial, reacted with a sudden, violent outburst after hearing the decision.

"I didn't do it!" he shouted, punctuating his outburst with the crash of broken glass by sweeping a glass water pitcher off the table in front of him. The pitcher shattered against the bench, nearly hitting the circuit court clerk and the court stenographer.

McKeller continued to struggle and deny responsibility as he was handcuffed and removed by the court's bailiffs.

Judge Fred Copeland, circuit judge for the 34th Circuit Court, ordered McKeller to be held without bond until final sentencing which was set for 1 p.m. March 6.

Copeland served as judge for the trial which was held at the Mississippi County Courthouse due to a request for a change of judge and venue by the defense.

This was McKeller's second trial on the charges. The first, held in August, was declared a mistrial due to a hung jury.

On Feb. 15, 2005, McKeller's co-defendant, Justin "Jumbo" Robinson of Sikeston, was convicted of second-degree murder and armed criminal action after a two-day jury trial and is now serving a 30-year sentence in the Missouri Department of Corrections for his part in the murder.

"Trevor Neal's death resulted from disrespect on the streets," Scott County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Boyd said during the trial.

The conflict between McKeller and Neal, who were at one time on friendly terms, started when McKeller was allegedly robbed of cash and or property valued at around $200 by an individual from Memphis, Tenn., identified only as Antoine who was a friend of Neal and Kevin "K.D." Weekly of Sikeston.

"It is our position that Justin Robinson shot and killed Trevor Neal," said Derrick R. Williams, lead defense counsel, during his closing argument. "He told five different stories."

Boyd said Robinson initially wouldn't offer any information but once he found out Neal died he decided to tell the truth to Bobby Sullivan, who at that time was a Scott County sheriff's deputy.

Robinson also said he decided to testify against his friend because he wanted to make things right with Neal's mother.

Boyd noted in his closing arguments that Robinson was arrested the next day while McKeller, who fled to St. Louis, wasn't taken into custody until 10 months after the shooting.

"Flight indicates guilt," Boyd said.

"Resisting arrest indicates guilt." Williams said appeals will be filed by the defense.

"The jury listened to the evidence and was firmly convinced that the defendant committed the crime," Boyd said of the decision following the trial.

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