COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
A Boone County jury found a Fulton man guilty of a 2019 murder on Thursday, after a three-day trial and a little more than an hour of deliberation.
Justin Witt, 50, was convicted of second-degree murder, armed criminal action, unlawful possession of a firearm, attempted possession of a controlled substance and attempted stealing by deceit.
In April 2019, Witt, along with two other men, tried to buy methamphetamine from Nathan Pritchett, Jr., 29, with fake money. When Pritchett realized the money was fake, one of the men said Pritchett threatened him with a handgun, which police say turned out to be a toy cap gun.
Witt said he saw Pritchett with the gun and heard him making threats. He admitted to shooting Pritchett from a car with a shotgun. His lawyers argued during the trial that it was in self-defense.
Pritchett died at the scene, and the three men fled the area.
Callaway County Prosecuting Attorney Christopher D. Wilson said in a statement that under Missouri's felony-murder rule, a suspect is criminally liable for killings that occur when they are engaging in a felony.
"Missouri’s self-defense law does not apply to homicides committed during the commission of another felony and charged under the state’s felony murder rule and the jury was so instructed," Wilson said.
Joey Morris and William Schoening-Scoggins, the other men involved, previously pleaded guilty for their roles in Pritchett's death. They each were sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Witt's sentencing is scheduled for June 13 in Callaway County. He faces the following sentences:
- Up to life in prison on the murder charge;
- Up to 7 years in prison each on the attempted possession and stealing charges;
- Anywhere from 3-10 years on the charge of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; and,
- At least 3 years on the armed criminal action charge.