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New judge assigned in Jefferson City murder case


A new judge has been assigned to a Jefferson City murder case.

Judge Cotton Walker recused himself from the murder case involving Sergio Sayles last month. Judge Jon Beetem was assigned to the case on Wednesday.

Sayles 36, of Jefferson City, was charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action, evidence tampering, first-degree harassment and first-degree stalking in the death of his child’s mother. Cole County’s top prosecutor in April filed an intent to seek the death penalty. He is being held at the Cole County Jail without bond.

He was accused of stabbing Jasmine King to death in April.

Wednesday's hearing also heard a request for a change of venue, but Beetem will be the one to decide if it changes venue. A change of venue was previously requested by Sayles on Nov. 9, but it was denied.

According to court documents, the request for a change in venue is to ensure diversity among the jury when the case does head to trial. However, prosecution is arguing against that, requesting the judge deny the motion.

Sayles was being represented on Wednesday by James Egan. Sayles had requested a change in his legal counsel, due to “ineffective counsel and conflict of interest,” according to a court document filed on Nov. 16. Attorney Heather Vodnansky is still listed as his attorney on Casenet. Sayles had filed a request for a speedy trial on the same day, according to Casenet.

According to previous reporting, police found the woman, Jasmine King, dead from stab wounds to her head, face, neck, torso and back in her home Monday in the 300 block of West Ashley Street after King's family called police for a well-being check, according to a probable cause statement. Sayles gave inconsistent stories about where he was Monday afternoon and he denied killing King, according to the statement.

Witness statements and surveillance video connected Sayles to the crime scene, according to court documents. Police also recovered the murder weapon and some of Sayles's belongings in a trash bag at McClung Park, where surveillance cameras captured Sayles sitting in his vehicle around the time of King's death, according to the probable cause statement.

Back in 2021, King has filed a complaint against Sayles, saying he allegedly threatened to shoot her in the face and kill her, online court records say.

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