The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

February 10, 2014

Another co-defendant pleads guilty in Jacob Wages murder

— A third defendant pleaded guilty today in the July 2012 murder of Joplin resident Jacob Wages.

Elijah N. Taylor, 18, of Tulsa, Okla., pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and burglary in a plea deal with the Jasper County prosecutor’s office that would cap the prison time he might receive at no more than 15 years.

Wages, 23, was shot to death inside his home the night of July 6, 2012, in what police believe was an attempt to rob him of Ecstasy pills and cash. Five young suspects were charged with the crime.

Taylor is one of two co-defendants who were 16 at the time but were certified to stand trial as adults. Circuit Judge David Dally ordered a sentencing-assessment report following Taylor’s plea on Monday and set his sentencing hearing for April 7.

Marcus Stephens, also now 18 and from Tulsa, and Cody E. Stephens, 22, of Parsons, Kan., received essentially the same plea deals and were sentenced to concurrent terms of 15 years for second-degree murder and five years for burglary. Taylor’s brother, Johnathan “J.T.” Taylor, 20, has not accepted any plea offers as yet and remains charged with second-degree murder and burglary.

Daniel D. Hartman, the presumed shooter in the case, was found guilty of second-degree murder, armed criminal action and burglary in a trial two weeks ago and will be sentenced March 31. He was 17 at the time of the murder and is now 18.

Prosecutor Norman Rouse told jurors at Hartman’s trial that police never found any evidence that Wages was a drug dealer or had any stash of Ecstasy pills and drug money in his possession. Rouse suggested that for all investigators know, Wages died for nothing, the victim of “a mistaken perception” on the part of the co-defendants.

         

 

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