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Press Release

KC Man Sentenced to 45 Years for Conspiracy to Commit Armed Robberies of Local Businesses

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri
Store Employee Fatally Shot and Beaten in Tenth Armed Robbery

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Kansas City, Mo., man has been sentenced in federal court for his role in a conspiracy to commit nine armed robberies of local businesses in the summer of 2018, as well as an armed robbery in which a convenience store employee was beaten and then fatally shot.

Joe Lee Nichols, 30, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark on Thursday, Feb. 22, to 45 years in federal prison without parole.

On March 11, 2022, Nichols pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit robbery, three counts of robbery, and three counts of using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Additionally, federal prosecutors used evidence of Nichols’s involvement in a tenth, uncharged armed robbery in which a person was killed as relevant conduct for determining his sentence.

Nichols admitted that he was part of a conspiracy to rob nine businesses at gunpoint between June 1 and July 18, 2018. Nichols also admitted that he was directly involved in the armed robbery of Boost Mobile, 5218 E. Truman Road, on June 12, 2018; the armed robbery of Arrowhead Inn, 6006 E.  31st Street, on July 2, 2018; and the armed robbery of Wood Springs Suites, 11301 Colorado Avenue, on July 14, 2018.

The government presented evidence at Nichols’s sentencing hearing that he was also involved in a tenth, uncharged, armed robbery of Inner-City Oil convenience store, 5901 Swope Parkway, on July 16, 2018. The court determined there was sufficient evidence of Nichols’s involvement to consider the robbery as relevant conduct, which impacted the court’s sentencing decision.

Video surveillance evidence introduced during yesterday’s sentencing hearing indicated that Nichols pointed a handgun at an employee of Inner-City Oil, who resisted and engaged in a struggle for Nichols’s firearm. Nichols fired his gun multiple times before the employee fell to the floor. The employee then retrieved a handgun and began to fire back at Nichols. Nichols began to stomp and kick at the head and body of the employee, who was still lying on the floor. The employee lost his firearm, which was recovered by Nichols’s accomplice, who then used it to also shoot the store clerk. When they were unable to access the cash register, Nichols and his accomplice left the store. The employee can be seen on the surveillance video, still moving while lying on the floor, until eventually becoming motionless when he died from his injuries. A witness who saw their car leaving the area and discovered the body of the employee immediately called 911.

The surveillance video depicts Nichols leaning on an ice cream freezer with his left hand while assaulting the employee on the floor. Investigators determined that a palm print found on the ice cream freezer belonged to Nichols.  Nichols was also identified by his appearance in other robbery videos and by several witnesses who viewed the Inner-City Oil video.

Nichols is the third defendant to be sentenced in this case. One additional co-defendant has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing and two other defendants remain set for trial in May 2023.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bruce Rhoades and Maureen Brackett. It was investigated by the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, and agents and task force officers of the FBI.

Updated February 24, 2023

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