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Third person pleads in double homicide in St. Joseph

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ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) _ A third defendant has pleaded guilty to participating in a double homicide in St. Joseph.

Raymond Jimenez-Bencebi Jr. pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree murder in the July 2016 deaths of 25-year-old Raymond Ortiz and 22-year-old Kevin Melendez in a rolling gun fight in St. Joseph.

Two other men earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, after agreeing to testify against the other defendants.

The St .Joseph News-Press reports two other defendants, Omar Martinez-Velez and Luis Omar Robles-Vargas, had been charged with second-degree murder but prosecutors say they will now file charges of first-degree murder against the men.

The newspaper has reported that court documents indicate the shootings were likely part of a turf war between rival gangs.