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Moberly man pleads not guilty to first-degree murder

RANDOLPH Co. (KMIZ)

A Moberly man pleaded not guilty Wednesday for first-degree murder in the shooting death of 49-year-old Mitchell Nickerson.

A Randolph County prosecutor has charged Jerry L. Fitzwater, 79, with first-degree murder, armed criminal action, and unlawful use of a weapon

Fitzwater was originally charged with first-degree assault, armed criminal action, and unlawful use of a weapon. The first-degree assault charge was upgraded a few days after the shooting after Nickerson died.

Timeline of Events

Moberly police were called to the 300 block of East Burkhart Street around 8:22 p.m. on July 8, according to the probable cause statement.

At the scene, police found Nickerson lying on the ground with a gunshot wound to his head. Nickerson was then taken to University Hospital.

According to police, witnesses at the scene identified Fitzwater as the person who shot Nickerson.

When speaking with Fitzwater, police saw .22 caliber bullets fall out of his left pocket. During a search, police found 69 bullets in Fitzwater's pocket.

Fitzwater told police he shot Nickerson but wasn't quite sure whom he shot at the time. Fitzwater told police he believed Nickerson was selling drugs to children.

According to the probable cause statement, Fitzwater told police he would have shot everyone in the home Nickerson was outside of, due to "frustrations that had been growing for some time."

Moberly Police Department Chief Troy Link told ABC 17 News after the shooting the department had previously spoken with Fitzwater about his concerns and asked for evidence of the claims.

At the scene of the shooting, Fitzwater reportedly told police he wanted to "take matters into his own hands."

Police arrested Fitzwater at the scene after doing a search of his house and finding a gun they believed was used in the shooting.

Nickerson died a few days after the shooting. Prosecutors upgraded the assault charge against Fitzwater to first-degree murder after Nickerson's death.

A judge later denied bond for Fitzwater in late July.

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Meghan Drakas

Meghan joined ABC 17 News in January 2021.
The Penn State grad is from the Philadelphia suburbs where she interned with several local TV stations.

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