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Murder charge dropped in plea deal with Jefferson City murder suspect

Bruce Thomas was originally charged with murder in the shooting death of Nilez Nichols on Nov. 19, 2018.
ABC 17 News
Bruce Thomas was originally charged with murder in the shooting death of Nilez Nichols on Nov. 19, 2018.

Cole County prosecutors have reached an agreement with Bruce Thomas, one of the three suspects charged in connection with a deadly shooting last year.

Prosecuting Attorney Locke Thompson told ABC 17 News that Thomas is expected to plead guilty to first-degree robbery on Thursday. If he does not, the murder charge would be refiled against Thomas.

Thomas, who was originally accused of second-degree murder, was 15-year-old when he was charged in December 2018. He was one of three men allegedly involved in a botched drug deal at a home on Stadium Boulevard on Nov. 19, 2018.

Nilez Nichols, 19, of Jefferson City died from a gunshot wound as a result of the incident.

Should he plead guilty to robbery, a class A felony, Thomas faces a sentence of up to 30 years in prison. If he does not plead guilty, Thomas could go to trial as soon as next week.

Thompson declined to explain the details of the plea agreement, only saying that they involve Thomas' sentencing and other criminal investigations.

Thomas' public defender, Christopher Carter, had no comment on the plea deal on Wednesday.

Semaj Harris and Berry Jones were also charged with murder in connection with the shooting.

Jones is scheduled to go to trial for second-degree murder and robbery in March for allegedly driving the car that the three used to leave.

Court documents filed in the cases of Harris and Thomas said the two arrived at a house in the 1900 block of Stadium Boulevard to buy marijuana. Thomas told officers that he intended to steal the drugs, according to a probable cause statement.

While he was inside, Thomas struggled with someone for a gun. Afterward, Harris and Thomas ran from the home and Nichols chased after them. Someone fired a gun and hit Nichols, according to court documents.

It's not clear in court document who pulled the trigger that resulted in Nichols' death.

Harris pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in May as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. Thompson said Harris agreed to cooperate with the investigations into Thomas and Jones.

Thompson said Thomas' hearing is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

A relative of Nichols had no comment on the deal on Wednesday.

Read the three indictments for each suspect below:

Article Topic Follows: Crime
jefferson city
plea deal

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Barry Mangold

Barry Mangold reports for ABC 17 News on weekday evenings and anchors weekend evening broadcasts.


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