CHARLESTON -- A Sikeston man and a Charleston man face a possible murder trial for a New Year's Eve shooting.
A preliminary hearing was conducted Thursday in Mississippi County Associate Court for Jermaine Anderson, 19, of Charleston and Michael Ray Turner, 18, of Sikeston for the murder of Eric "Felando" Curtis on Dec. 31, 2002. Anderson is charged with first degree murder and armed criminal action; Turner is charged with first degree murder.
Assistant Mississippi County Prosecuting Attorney Gregory Spencer called five witnesses at the hearing before Associate Judge W.H. Winchester III.
Mississippi County Coroner Terry Parker testified that Curtis was pronounced dead on New Year's Eve, after being shot with a firearm. Apparently the bullet from an automatic 9mm handgun passed through Curtis' femoral artery in his upper thigh, causing him to bleed to death. He was pronounced dead at Missouri Delta Medical Center in Sikeston.
Testimony was then heard from two eye witnesses to the shooting near the intersection of Vine and Elm streets on the afternoon of Dec. 31. The witnesses identified Anderson as the shooter and Turner as driver of the get-away car.
Charleston Department of Public Safety Detective Mitch Walker's testimony was in connection with Turner's confession into his role in the murder. Charleston Police Lt. Michael Tarver testified about Anderson's confession.
Winchester found probable cause and ordered the defendants to appear before Judge David Dolan on April 8 for a possible trial setting.
"A finding of probable cause means that the court is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence that a felony offense occurred and that the defendants were involved in that felony offense," Mississippi County Prosecutor Jennifer Raffety said. "Now both defendants have to appear in Circuit Court where they will either plead guilty or not guilty. If they plead not guilty, a trial date will be set."
Both defendants remain in custody in the Mississippi County Detention Center where bond is set at $500,000 on each.
In Missouri, the crime of first degree murder carries a range of punishment of life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty. The armed criminal action offense carries a range of punishment of three or more years or life in prison.
"As this is a case involving firearms and violence, this office's zero tolerance policy will be in effect," Spencer said.
He added the Mississippi County Prosecuting Attorney's office instituted a policy of "zero tolerance" last fall for violent crimes involving firearms. This policy was initiated as part of the U.S. Department of Justice Project Safe Neighborhoods Program.