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Murder suspect pleads guilty in Jefferson City shooting

A man indicted on a murder charge in a Jefferson City shooting will spend the next five years in prison.

Cole County Prosecuting Attorney Locke Thompson said Semaj Harris was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to stealing a controlled substance Friday. Harris agreed to cooperate in the investigation of Bruce Thomas, who was also indicted on a second-degree murder charge in what authorities said was a deadly robbery.

“I understand how the perception might come across that it’s a little light but we have a lot of factors that we’re examining and looking at,” Thompson said. “Factors that I can’t really go into because we still have two pending cases against co-defendants.”

Harris’ plea deal says that if he were to not cooperate with the investigation then prosecutors would refile the murder charge.

“It is certainly in his best interest to communicate and cooperate with us fully,” Thompson said.

The charges stem from the Nov. 19 death of 19-year-old Nilez Nichols in the 1900 block of Stadium Boulevard. Jefferson City police believe Nichols was shot during a marijuana deal. It isn’t clear from court documents who authorities believe pulled the trigger.

Thompson said he expects Thomas’ case to go to trial in December. Court documents in Thomas’ case detail the apparant drug and weapons sale.

Another man, Berry Jones, was indicted by a grand jury Friday with second-degree murder and first-degree robbery. Investigators believe he was the driver of the vehicle Harris and Thomas were in the night Nichols was shot. Harris also agreed to assist in the investigation into Jones’ role in the shooting.

Thompson said a warrant was issued for Jones last week. Jones was later taken into custody in Iowa and transported to the Cole County Jail.

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