NEW MADRID -- After a New Madrid County jury convicted a Poplar Bluff man for his part in murder, the judge sentenced him to life in prison without the opportunity of parole.
Derrick McFarland, 25, was found guilty of hiring a man to shoot and kill a Poplar Bluff teen by jurors who deliberated just over 40 minutes following the two-day trial in January. McFarland's trial was moved from Butler County on a change of venue.
In addition to a life sentence for first degree murder imposed Tuesday by Judge Fred Copeland, McFarland received 10 years in prison on a charge of armed criminal action. The 10-year sentence is to run concurrent with the life sentence.
McFarland was found guilty of hiring Travis Henderson, 24, of New Madrid. Henderson confessed in May to shooting Lawerence J. Warren in return for drugs and cash from McFarland.
Henderson was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Because of the violent nature of his crime, he must serve at least 25 of those before he is eligible for parole. On Dec. 26, 2005, Poplar Bluff police responding to a report of gunshots found Warren shot to death in a pickup truck idling near the home of his girlfriend. He was shot once in the chest and once in the head.
Police later interviewed witnesses who said Warren sold drugs for McFarland, according to testimony at the trial. McFarland wanted revenge because the victim stole drug money from him, they said.
Henderson testified at the trial that McFarland provided him with the gun used to kill Warren. McFarland was later supposed to pay him anywhere from an eighth of an ounce to four ounces of crack cocaine and up to $2,500 in cash in exchange for killing the teen.
After killing Warren, Henderson said he gave the weapon to McFarland. Investigators tracked the gun to the Lilbourn home of McFarland's girlfriend at the time. Although the woman had a relative hide the gun, it was later recovered from an abandoned lot.