Jordan draws prison time in slaying of Sean Harris

Artilius Jordan

Artilius Jordan, who avoided convictions in two prior Joplin assault cases, drew a 20-year sentence Monday in the slaying of Sean A. Harris, of Joplin.

Judge Gayle Crane assessed Jordan, 49, the prison term at his sentencing hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court on a conviction of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of the Harris on Dec. 24, 2017, outside an apartment in the 600 block of South Byers Avenue.

Jordan, who had been facing a charge of first-degree murder, pleaded guilty to the reduced count Dec. 19 in a plea deal calling for the 20-year term. The defendant also pleaded guilty to two related counts of second-degree assault at the hearing in December and was sentenced Monday to seven years on each of those convictions with all three terms to run concurrently.

Jordan will be required to serve 85 percent of the sentence, meaning he will not be eligible for parole for about 15 years when credit for having spent more than two years in jail is figured into the judgment of the court.

Jordan shot Harris three times outside the apartment of Jordan's girlfriend, where Harris, 47, had been staying.

Jordan pistol-whipped his girlfriend, Megan Biggs, in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and tried to shoot her in the back seat of an extended-cab pickup truck driven by Joseph J. Czahor III. The shot missed Biggs and passed through the head rest of the driver's seat, splitting into fragments, one of which hit Czahor in the back.

Czahor was in the company of Moses Ramsey when they gave Jordan a ride to the address where the shooting took place. Ramsey, who initially faced murder charges with Jordan, turned state's witness at a preliminary hearing in 2018, and his charges were dismissed.

Ramsey testified that when they got to the apartment where Harris was staying, they spotted Biggs crossing the street, and Jordan followed her up some steps to the apartment where he ran into Harris. Ramsey said Harris started toward Jordan as if he were going to hit him and that Jordan shot him. The two men fell, as if Harris might have pulled Jordan down with him. Ramsey said.

Ramsey told the court that Jordan then stood back up and shot Harris a second time. Czahor testified at the same hearing that he heard four shots from his vantage point inside the truck. Prosecutor Theresa Kenney told the court that Harris actually was shot three times, with the fatal round striking him in the chest.

Prior arrests

Artilius Jordan avoided convictions in two prior felony assault cases in which the alleged victims proved unwilling to testify against him. He was accused of stabbing Stanley R. Watkins on Jan. 3, 2013, at 809 S. Pennsylvania Ave. But Watkins, 35 at the time, refused to testify against Jordan. Similarly, Corey M. Walstead, a 23-year-old man from Diamond, declined to testify against Jordan after he was shot on Dec. 1, 2015, on East 15th Street. Walstead was struck by two rounds and suffered life-threatening wounds requiring surgery.

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