ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Less than two weeks before he was slated to go on trial for a 2022 murder in Pine Lawn, a Ferguson man agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Henry Simmons, 28, appeared in St. Louis County Circuit Court on Wednesday and pleaded guilty to second-degree accessory murder for the shooting death of Bryant Jones.

The St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office had initially charged Simmons with second-degree murder, but agreed to amend that charge, and declined to prosecute three other charges: first-degree robbery and two counts of armed criminal action.

The trial was scheduled to begin on Aug. 14.

A county judge sentenced Simmons to 12 years in state prison.

Prosecutors said Simmons gunned down Jones in the early morning hours of July 4, 2022, near the 3700 block of Salome Avenue. Jones, who was in his car at the time of the shooting, crashed into a telephone pole a few hundred feet away on Avondale Avenue.

According to police and prosecutors, Simmons set up a drug deal via social media messaging, then shot Jones during the transaction.

Jones’ mother addressed the court, saying she respected and accepted the plea agreement, but wanted to make it clear that Simmons had stolen her son from her, and that when Simmons gets out of prison, her son will still be gone.