Kansas City federal prosecutors announced charges Wednesday against 11 defendants in a drug case tied to a triple homicide in Independence last month.
The federal action moves the prosecution out of state court in Jackson County to U.S. District Court, which has better tools for dealing with large drug conspiracies, said Acting U.S. Attorney David Ketchmark.
“By bringing this case into federal court, we will mount a comprehensive prosecution of all of the defendants, bringing them to trial together under one charging document,” Ketchmark said in a written statement.
Jackson County courts seldom try, as a group, all defendants facing charges in a single case. Such trials are routine in the federal system.
The charges stem from a Nov. 16 home invasion at 1505 South Pope Ave.
Under the new federal charges, Finley and Soto each face three counts of murder during a drug-trafficking crime, each of which carries a possible death sentence.
And they are charged with wounding Maria Hernandez’s 13-year-old son.
Cervantes and Phillips join Finley, Soto and a new defendant, Carlos Zambrano Jr., 37, in a drug-conspiracy count that could bring a life sentence on conviction.
Six others — Paula K. Deardorff, 31, Amber R. Hart, 26, Ryan J. Clayton, 30, Martin Medrano, 22, Stephanie K. Allinder, 30, and Clayton J. Deardorff, 34 — face charges of helping the conspirators by disposing of evidence or of not reporting the crimes to authorities.
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