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Justice News

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

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Jury Convicts Two Inmates of Murdering Prisoner, Trial Enters Death Penalty Phase


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that two inmates of the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Mo., have been convicted in federal court of murdering another inmate at the facility.

Wesley Paul Coonce, Jr., 34, and Charles Michael Hall, 43, who are both inmates at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners, were found guilty on Wednesday, May 7, 2014, of one count of murder in the first degree.  Coonce was also found guilty of one count of murder by an inmate serving a life sentence.

The evidence presented at trial demonstrated that another inmate at the prison medical center, Victor Castro-Rodriguez, 51, was found deceased on the floor of his cell on Jan. 26, 2010.

Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Mo., deliberated for about an hour before returning the guilty verdicts to U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner, ending a trial that began April 28, 2014.

The trial now enters the penalty phase in which the jury must determine the sentences for Coonce and Hall. Under federal statutes, Coonce and Hall are subject to either the death penalty or life in federal prison without parole.

This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney James D. Peterson of the Capital Case Section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eggert.  It was investigated by the FBI and the Bureau of Prisons.
Updated January 9, 2015