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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Missouri

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Columbia Man Pleads Guilty to Distributing Heroin Resulting in Death, Faces 22 Years in Prison


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Columbia, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to distributing heroin, which resulted in the death of another Columbia man last year.

Ellison Lee Hutchison, Jr., also known as “Lucky,” 37, of Columbia, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Matt J. Whitworth to the charge contained in a June 27, 2012 federal indictment.

By pleading guilty today, Hutchison admitted that he distributed heroin to Maximillion Shackelford on Jan. 23, 2012, and that Shackelford died as a result of using that heroin.

Under the terms of today’s binding plea agreement, Hutchison will be sentenced to 22 years in federal prison without parole and is subject to a fine up to $1 million. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

Columbia police officers were called to the apartment where Shackelford lived with his mother on Jan. 23, 2012. Shackelford was deceased when officers arrived at his apartment. Officers found two syringes lying with Shackelford on the bed, and two recent injection sites were visible on his right wrist. An autopsy was conducted and the medical examiner declared the cause of death to be an overdose of heroin.

Officers examined Shackelford’s cell phone and learned that he had made arrangements earlier that evening to meet Hutchison. Shackelford’s brother told investigators that Hutchison was a heroin dealer with whom he and the victim had prior dealings. Investigators also interviewed the person who drove Shackelford to the location where the drug transaction occurred.

Columbia police officers and Boone County, Mo., sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant at Hutchison’s residence on Jan. 25, 2012. Hutchison, who was arrested, was in possession of two cell phones, $3,892 in cash and a small baggie of marijuana. A search of Hutchison’s residence resulted in a number of items being seized, including a surveillance system, an electronic scale, two containers of Dormin (a common cutting agent for heroin), a large number of plastic baggies with the corners removed (consistent with having been used to package drugs) and $17,740 in cash. The electronic scale was later sent to the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Lab and found to have residue of heroin, cocaine and THC (the active ingredient in marijuana). Investigators examined the cell phones and found text messages between Shackelford and Hutchison, apparently referencing prior drug deals.

Hutchison was questioned and eventually admitted that he sold Shackelford a quarter gram of heroin for $45.

This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven R. Berry, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Morrell (an assistant prosecutor for the Boone County Prosecutor’s office who was appointed for this case) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony P. Gonzalez. It was investigated by the Columbia, Mo., Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Boone County, Mo., Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the Boone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department and the Boone County, Mo., Medical Examiner’s Office.

Updated January 9, 2015