A second defendant pleaded guilty Monday in connection with the kidnapping that led to an Independence police officer's near-fatal shooting in March 2017.
Donald Nussbaum pleaded guilty in Jackson County Circuit Court to first-degree robbery and armed criminal action, avoiding a trial that had been scheduled to start Monday. Nussbaum, 54, had also been charged with burglary and kidnapping, and prosecutors dropped those charges as part of the plea deal, according to court records. He and co-defendant James McChan had driven two other men to the Delaware Avenue neighborhood where they burglarized, kidnapped and beat Don Fowler in his house.
When police responded to the 911 call, they surrounded the house and the burglars tried to escape, Officer Tom Wagstaff got hit in the head from a freak ricochet of friendly fire and nearly died.
Nussbaum is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 23 by Circuit Judge Jack Grate. McChan, 59, pleaded guilty in February to the four charges Nussbaum initially faced and awaits sentencing Aug. 2 from Grate.
Judge Grate also found co-defendant Joseph Wyatt guilty of eight charges in connection with the case in a December 2018 bench trial and later sentenced him to 40 years. Wyatt, 30, also tried to carjack another vehicle after he and co-defendant Ronar Santiago-Torres stole Fowler's truck and fled the scene. Santiago-Torres, 30, is scheduled to go on trial in Sept. 16.
Wagstaff returned home in December 2017 after months of rehabilitation and continues his recovery to this day. He took a medical retirement from the police force in October 2018.