A triple-homicide in Independence, Missouri last month has led to a federal indictment that names eleven defendants, who prosecutors say were involved in a drug-trafficking conspiracy. Two of the suspects could face the federal death penalty if convicted.
David M. Ketchmark, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced the indictments on Wednesday.
Kevin M. Finley, also known as “Tubbs,” 33, Antonio Cervantes, III, also known as “Taz,” 32, and Bobbi Jo Phillips, 37, all of Independence; Raul Soto, also known as “Choch,” 22, of Kansas City, Kan.; Carlos Zambrano, Jr., also known as “Los,” 27, Paula K. Deardorff, 31, Martin Medrano, 22, and Amber R. Hart, 26, all of Kansas City, Mo.; Clayton J. Deardorff, 34, of Columbia, Mo., and Ryan J. Clayton, 30, and Stephanie K. Allinder, 30, addresses unknown, were charged in a 14-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo., on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012.
As a result of the federal indictment, related state charges against several of the defendants will be dismissed after they are transferred into federal custody.
“Federal statutes are uniquely designed to target large-scale drug-trafficking conspiracies,” Ketchmark said. “By bringing this case into federal court, we will mount a comprehensive prosecution of all of the defendants, bringing them to trial together under one charging document. After discussing this case with Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, we agree that federal charges are more appropriate.”
The federal indictment alleges that Finley, Soto, Cervantes, Zambrano and Phillips participated in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. On Nov. 15 and 16, 2012, the five co-defendants allegedly met and agreed to rob the residents of an Independence home of a large quantity of methamphetamine and cash. During the meeting, the indictment says, they discussed the quantities of drugs they expected to find in the home invasion robbery, and armed themselves with firearms.
On Nov. 16, 2012, Finley and Soto assaulted Jesus Hernandez-Corona by pistol-whipping him, the indictment says, in an effort to force him to disclose the locations of cash and drugs.
In addition to the drug-trafficking conspiracy, Finley and Soto are charged with three counts of aiding and abetting each other to use a firearm in relation to a drug-trafficking crime, resulting in the deaths of Maria Hernandez, her son, Antonio Hernandez, and her boyfriend, Martin Dominguez-Gregorio, also known as “Tomas.”
Under federal statutes, the penalty for those violations is either life in federal prison without parole or the death penalty. The Department of Justice has not yet determined whether to seek the death penalty in this case.
Finley and Soto are also charged with aiding and abetting each other to discharge a firearm and wounding Miguel Hernandez, Maria Hernandez’s 12–year-old son. Under federal law, the penalty for this violation is mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, to be served consecutively to any other sentence.
Paula Deardorff, Hart, Clayton, Medrano and Allinder were each charged with assisting co-defendants by receiving and disposing of evidence in order to hinder and prevent their trial and punishment. Clayton Deardorff was charged with concealing what he knew about the drug-trafficking conspiracy and murders.