A fifth suspect has been charged in the murders of three people in a drug robbery gone wrong in Independence on Nov. 16.
With Carlos Zambrano Jr. charged Monday, that makes a total of five people charged each with three counts of first-degree murder, three counts of armed criminal action, one count of first-degree assault and one count of first-degree burglary in the deaths of Maria Hernandez, 48; her son, Antonio Hernandez, 20; and Tomas Dominguez, 33, in the 1500 block of South Pope Avenue.
Bobbie Jo Phillips, 37, and Raul Soto, 22, were charged on Thanksgiving Day. Antonio Cervantes III, 32, of Independence and Kevin M. Finley, 33, were charged last Wednesday. Like the other four, Zambrano is being held without bond.
Cervantes, Finley, Phillips and Soto made their first appearance in court Monday in Independence. The charges were read to the defendants, and the judge allowed the suspects time to acquire attorneys before making a plea. The judge did not allow the defendants to post bond.
Prosecutors told the judge that the case will likely go before a grand jury, eliminating the need for a preliminary hearing.
If convicted, the five defendants face life in prison or a possible death sentence. Cervantes and Soto told Examiner news partner KMBC that they were innocent on their way out of Monday's hearing.
Court documents say that Phillips and Cervantes picked Zambrano out of a lineup and Cervantes identified him as being a “shooter” in the crime. Court documents also allege that Zambrano, also known as "Los," was the driver of one of the vehicles that took the killers to the house on Pope Avenue. Zambrano, 27, of Kansas City, told police he was present when the robbery was planned at a Kansas City apartment and that he observed Cervantes, Soto, Phillips and a person named Clayton Deardorff with firearms there.
Court records say Zambrano was identified by a birth certificate found in a vehicle that was connected with Finley. Investigators say they found in the glovebox of that vehicle that had been taken to a tow lot.
Court documents indicate the robbers expected to be able to get money and drugs from Dominguez, who was named as Cervantes’ step-father. Dominguez had told acquaintances that he had done this before and had taken “$30,000 and 3 pounds of ice.”
A 12-year-old son of Maria Hernandez’s also was shot as he tried to protect his mother, but he is expected to recover.
Police were able to get some helpful information from a cell phone that had been taken during the robbery.
Court documents show Soto, of Kansas City, Kan., to be the third person police say was involved in the execution-style shootings inside the house on Pope. Phillips, of Independence, told police she was a longtime friend of Finley’s. Court documents indicate she accompanied the other defendants on the robbery.
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