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Criminal history could play a role in shooting charges

Javion Lawhorn-Wallace has been accused in a drive-by shooting before.

In 2010 he pleaded guilty to being the trigger man in a north Columbia drive-by. Now Lawhorn-Wallace is accused again of pulling the trigger in a drive-by shooting, this time with fatal consequences.

Boone County prosecutors have charged Lawhorn-Wallace with second-degree murder, two counts of unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of armed criminal action in the Sept. 13 fatal shooting of Nadria Wright, 18, in central Columbia.

That criminal history could play a role in how he is prosecuted, former prosecutor Bill Tackett said Thursday.

“When someone has a prior conviction, it’s a huge deal in terms of prosecution,” Tackett said. “You can be charged as a prior or prior-persistent offender, which enhances the punishment you get if you are convicted of that crime.”

Bill Tackett, the former prosecuting attorney for Cole County, said criminal history affects the entire process.

“All the way through the process, the prior conviction plays a role from the charging decision to the trial to final sentencing,” Tackett said.

Wallace-Lawhorn was sentenced to 7 years in jail after his 2010 guilty plea in a shooting that happened in 2009.

“As prosecutors we build a pedigree… That’s just stacking up the convictions and crimes until there is a 20- or 30-year sentence, where they are removed from society,” Tackett said. “Sometimes that can be frustrating and it takes time, but that’s just the process.”

He said prosecutors can recommend a higher sentence in cases where the defendant has a criminal history. Prosecutors can also ask for a high bond if suspects are considered dangerous to the community.

“If you are going to continually commit crimes particularly violent crimes or sex crimes, then the law is clearly designed to take you out of society as soon as possible,” Tackett said.

The Columbia Police Department has issued a warrant for Lawhorn-Wallace’s arrest, and he is still at large. The department is asking anyone with information to contact the department or Crimestoppers at 875-TIPS to remain anonymous.


Article Topic Follows: Boone

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