Four charged in conspiracy to murder Beaumont High student and his friend

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ST. LOUIS - Prosecutors have charged four men in connection with the death of a 16-year-old Beaumont High School student who was shot while waiting to go to school at his bus stop.

Keith Graham, 20, William Pearson, 21, Terez Cook, 18, and Devion Gordon, 22, were charged with first-degree murder, first-degree conspiracy to commit murder, and armed criminal action. According to court documents, recorded phone conversations from jail detail their plan to kill James Scales.

Court documents said Scales was with his friend, Dwayne Clanton, when Clanton was shot in the head in an alley at the 4500 block of Lexington Avenue December 26th, 2016.

At the time of the shooting, Scales told St. Louis police investigators that Graham was the killer. The two knew each other from school.

As a result, Graham was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in Clanton's death.

While locked up at the St. Louis Justice Center, Graham began calling his brothers, William Pearson and Terez Cook, and a friend, Devion Gordon. Court documents said the four began discussing how to kill Scales and whether they "can stop Graham from being indicted if they killed Scales early," and, "Graham offers money for Scales to be killed."

On September 5, 2017 at 6:20 a.m., Scales was murdered while waiting for the school bus at the 1700 block of North Euclid Avenue. "Ballistics showed that two different firearms were used in his murder."

The probable cause statement said on the day of Scales' murder, Graham spoke to a female over the phone who told him, "'Mr. Tattletale,' James had been shot 10 times in the head." He then attempted to call Pearson and Cook "nine times that day, but they did not pick up." Gordon told Graham that day that they "didn't answer their phones because they didn't want him to say anything incriminating."

Court documents go on to indicate that cellphone data showed Pearson and Cook to be near the scene of the Scales murder when it occurred.

City of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner released this statement about the case:

"Witness and victim safety is one of my top priorities, as witness intimidation strikes at the heart of the justice system. When I took office, I stated that we were going to do more prosecutor-lead investigations in an effort to help reduce violent crime and build confidence in the criminal justice system.

"The case we charged today is an excellent example of how valuable these types of investigations can be to public safety. My team of prosecutors have been working for months on this case with the assistance of the police department, and we believe we have the evidence we need to hold these four individuals accountable for their actions."

Pearson, Cook, and Gordon have active warrants for their arrest. Anyone with information on their whereabouts is asked to call the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department or CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS.


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