A St. Louis teen is accused of murder, and his mother is accused having two witnesses killed, to keep her son out of jail. This started with the murder of a 16-year-old almost three years ago. Police arrested a suspect, but prosecutors dropped the charges last year.
"We had a mom who wanted to make sure her son did not go to jail, wasn't found guilty of his murder charges. So, she started this plan. That's what set it off. She used relatives and other people that she knew to make sure that they were quieted." said Assistant Circuit Attorney Beth Orwick.
In September 2013, 16-year old Chauncey Brown was gunned down near Club 187 in north St. Louis. Homicide detectives with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department believed Brown, a student at Sumner High School, was killed over a long-standing feud.
During the course of their investigation, detectives learned Brown was outside the club—which was hosting a teen party—with a friend, identified as James Moore. A white Dodge Charger chased the two teens into a nearby alley and several shots were fired from the vehicle. Brown’s body was found the next day.
Police arrested Tyrell Davidson in connection with the murder. Several eyewitnesses had given statements to police. In November 2013, Davidson was charged with first-degree murder, first-degree assault, two counts of armed criminal action, and shooting from a motor vehicle. He was jailed pending a trial.
Less than a month after Brown’s murder, James Moore was gunned down in Barrett Brothers Park. Moore was waiting at the bus stop with his brother on the morning of October 22, 2013 when a silver Charger pulled up and the driver pointed a handgun at the two siblings. Moore and his brother went running through the park, but the driver only chased after James.
James Moore was shot several times and collapsed in died in a baseball field in the park.
In April 2014, another witness, identified as Noah Barnes, was killed. Prosecutors and law enforcement said Barnes was inside the Dodge Charger with Davidson when he killed Chauncey Brown. Barnes’ body was found lying in the street in the 1900 block of Clara Avenue on April 22. He’d been shot in the head, torso, and extremities.
Other witnesses in the case were no longer willing to testify in court against Davidson. Prosecutors eventually had to drop the charges and Davidson was released on October 26, 2015.
According to prosecutors, further investigation revealed Tyrell Davidson’s mother, Latasha Mopkins, had asked relatives, identified as Frederick Mopkins and Cortez McClinton, with killing essential witnesses to ensure her son’s release. Frederick Mopkins is accused of enlisting the help of Travon Knighten in the killing of James Moore.
Travon Knighten, Cortez McClinton, and Frederick Mopkins have lengthy criminal histories, prosecutors said.
On July 1, 2016, Knighten received a suspended execution of sentence for first-degree tampering, first-degree child endangerment, resisting arrest, possession of a controlled substance, and unlawful use of a weapon.
McClinton has previously served time for first-degree tampering and marijuana possession; he’s pleaded guilty on 12 separate occasions to driving with a revoked license; and he was charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in May 2016.
Frederick Mopkins pleaded guilty to first-degree tampering, stealing over $500, and fraudulent use of a credit card device in October 2013. He also pleaded guilty in December 2015 to two counts of resisting a lawful stop.
Prosecutors have not yet specified charges against the five defendants.
Fox 2 News will have more information on this story as it becomes available.