OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
MATT J. WHITWORTH
Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106
SEPTEMBER 30, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
COLUMBIA MEN PLEAD GUILTY TO DRIVE-BY SHOOTING,
DRUG TRAFFICKING, ILLEGAL FIREARMS
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Matt J. Whitworth, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that two Columbia, Mo., men pleaded guilty in federal court today to their roles in a drive-by shooting. Along with a third Columbia man, they also pleaded guilty to their involvement in illegal drug trafficking and firearms in association with members of the Cut Throats.
Brandon James Isom, 19, and Diondre Jamel Cooper, 20, both of Columbia, pleaded guilty in separate appearances this afternoon before U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey to the charges contained in an April 3, 2009, superseding indictment. Co-defendant Demarco Laron Burnett, 25, also of Columbia, pleaded guilty on Friday, Sept. 28, 2009, to two counts of distributing crack cocaine.
Isom and Cooper each pleaded guilty to their roles in a drive-by shooting that occurred on May 31, 2008, at a gas station at 3300 Falling Leaf in Columbia. The shooting was in retaliation for an earlier incident in which a rival gang had shot a member of the Cut Throats. On June 2, 2007, a member of the Louie Bound group shot a member of the Cut Throats at a gas station on Smiley Lane in Columbia, in part due to a territorial dispute over the unlawful distribution of crack and powder cocaine. Isom had also been shot by another member of Louie Bound at a park in Columbia on April 16, 2008.
Isom and Cooper went to the gas station on May 31, 2008, to get revenge and to intimidate rivals of their unlawful drug-trafficking operation. Isom admitted that he shot a firearm at the person they mistakenly believed had shot their associate. There were several persons on the crowded lot at the time of the shooting. Isom shot a Glock 10 mm handgun toward the crowded lot, then drove off. Co-defendant William Ricky Boyd, 21, of Columbia, who was in the car with Cooper, also shot into the crowded lot. The individual, who actually was not the person they believed had shot their associate, was hit in the face.
Co-defendants Boyd, Eric Sherron Coats, 21, Cheviss Caron Denny, 21, and Robert Darnell Simmons, 36, all of Columbia, and Michael Lee Stapleton, 23, of Fayette, Mo., have also pleaded guilty to their roles in the drive-by shooting.
Isom pleaded guilty to his role in a conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and cocaine from January 2007 to September 2008. During this period, they carried firearms to protect themselves and their drug-trafficking business. They also would use force to collect debts and intimidate others. During the period of the criminal conspiracy, they distributed at least a pound of crack cocaine and at least a kilo of powder cocaine. Isom also pleaded guilty to one count of firing a weapon into a group of people in furtherance of a major drug offense, with the intent to intimidate, injure and maim, as well as to one count of using a firearm in a crime of violence.
Cooper pleaded guilty to his role in a conspiracy to illegally possess firearms and to fire a weapon into a group of persons in furtherance of a major drug offense, with the intent to intimidate, injure and maim. Cooper admitted that he and others passed firearms between themselves and stored firearms for each other. Although Cooper was prohibited from possessing firearms due to a prior felony conviction, he admitted that he possessed firearms on occasion and also passed firearms to others who were also prohibited from possessing the firearms.
Under federal statutes, Isom may face a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole. Cooper is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole. Burnett is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 60 years in federal prison without parole. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony P. Gonzalez and Lawrence E. Miller and Boone County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Steven Berry, who has been appointed a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney to assist in this prosecution. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Columbia, Mo., Police Department, the Boone County, Mo., Prosecutor’s Office, the Boone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Lab and the Mo. Department of Corrections.
This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at