Men from Kansas City, Mississippi receive life sentences in federal prison

Two men involved in a drug trafficking scheme that led to two murders were sentenced this week in federal court after being found guilty in an August 2023 trial. The court handed down the sentences to the convicted individuals.

On June 21, U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes sentenced Shawn “Deuce” Burkhalter, aged 35 and hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, to life in federal prison without parole. Burkhalter’s co-defendant, Joshua “T” Nesbitt, aged 30 and coming from Crowder, Mississippi, received the same sentence the day before.

In 2019, the government announced its intention to pursue the death penalty for both defendants. Fast forward to August 7, 2023, the trial finally commenced.

In August of 2023, both Burkhalter and Nesbitt were found guilty at trial for multiple crimes. These included conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana, possession of cocaine and marijuana with intent to distribute, robbery, discharging firearms in furtherance of a crime of violence and drug trafficking, brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, being felons in possession of a firearm, conspiracy to commit witness and evidence tampering, murder of a potential witness, and evidence tampering. In addition, Burkhalter was found guilty of one more count of witness tampering.

Between 2008 and 2018, Burkhalter and Nesbitt conspired to distribute cocaine and marijuana. The conspiracy involved six other individuals who have since pleaded guilty and received sentences for their involvement.

In a span of less than a month, Nesbitt and his accomplices stole marijuana from Anthony Dwayne Johnson on October 4. In the course of the robbery, Nesbitt used the same AR-15 rifle to shoot and fatally wound Johnson. The trial evidence presented showed that Burkhalter was behind the crime and was already in custody when the murder took place. It was also revealed that Johnson was targeted by Burkhalter because he was suspected of tipping off authorities about Burkhalter’s role in Dean’s murder.

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In September 2015, Burkhalter and Nesbitt committed a robbery at a business in Kansas City, Missouri, using the same AR-15 rifle.

During the June 20 sentencing hearing, the government presented evidence that Nesbitt had assaulted detention facility staff on multiple occasions while he was awaiting trial.

Shakira Hooker and Autry Hines, who were co-defendants from Kansas City, along with Joslyn Lee and Nickayla Jones from Blue Springs, Rachel Ryce from Raytown, and Anthony Peltier from Lawrence, have already pleaded guilty and received their sentences.

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