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Prosecutor to seek death penalty against 3 not 5 in killing

June 29, 2021 GMT

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A prosecutor has dropped the number of people he plans to seek the death penalty against in the killing of a southwestern Missouri woman from five to three.

Lawrence County Prosecutor Don Trotter told the Springfield News-Leader on Monday that he is now only actively pursuing the death penalty against Gary Hunter Jr., Steven Calverley and Diona Park — the defendants he views as most culpable in the August death of 27-year-old Sarah Pasco.

The Missouri State Public Defender System had pushed back after Trotter announced in December that he would seek the death penalty against those three and two more — Lyle DeLong and Andrew Cypret — saying the system only had three attorneys qualified to handle such cases.

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But while Trotter has withdrawn his intent to seek the death penalty in DeLong and Cypret’ cases, he added that he was “90 percent sure” he would pursue it again if a plea deal is not reached.

All told, nine defendants were charged with first-degree murder last year in Pasco’s death.

According to court documents, Pasco and another woman were abducted, taken to an abandoned well and shot. The other victim survived her injuries and helped authorities locate Pasco’s body.