A Springfield man and a Seymour resident were sentenced in federal court April 23 for their roles in a drug-trafficking conspiracy that resulted in the murder of a co-conspirator.
Anthony Edward Donovan, 21, of Springfield, and Nathaniel Austin Lee, 20, of Seymour, were sentenced in separate hearings before U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark. Donovan was sentenced to 35 years in federal prison without parole. Lee was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison without parole.
Donovan and Lee both pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Greene, Dallas, Webster and Christian Counties from April 28, 2015 to April 26, 2016. They both also pleaded guilty to using a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime, resulting in the murder of Oscar Adan Martinez-Gaxiola on April 25, 2016, in Webster County.
According to court documents, co-defendant Yovanny Aroldo Mendivil-Balderama, 23, a Mexican national, and Martinez-Gaxiola obtained large amounts of methamphetamine from either Arizona or Mexico and transported it to Missouri. They allegedly supplied methamphetamine to co-defendant Brooke Danielle Beckley, 21, of Nixa, for distribution in the Springfield area.
On April 6, 2016, law enforcement officers seized approximately 1.9 kilograms of methamphetamine, a loaded 20-gauge shotgun with a sawed off barrel and stock, four rounds of additional shotgun ammunition, a .22-caliber pistol, a drug ledger and $3,662 from Beckley’s hotel room.
The loss of the 1.9 kilograms of methamphetamine created a $44,000 debt that Beckley owed to both Mendivil-Balderama and Martinez-Gaxiola, according to prosecutors. According to court documents, text messages between Mendivil-Balderama and Beckley revealed they both wanted to kill Martinez-Gaxiola as a way to reduce, or extend, the debt and to prevent Martinez-Gaxiola from possibly killing Beckley.
Mendivil-Balderama suggested in a text to Beckley that he had “an idea of how we can do so you do not have to pay me everything.” Court records indicate that Beckley, in a text on April 21, 2016, asked what he needed her to do. Mendivil-Balderama allegedly responded, “I just need someone to help me get rid of someone I need gone like now.”
Subsequent text messages suggested that the person that needed to be “gone” was Martinez-Gaxiola, according to prosecutors.
Beckley then recruited Donovan to assist in killing Martinez-Gaxiola, and offered to pay him $6,000, court documents allege. Donovan allegedly recruited Lee to assist in the murder and allow for the use of Lee’s property in rural Webster County in exchange for part of the $6,000. Court documents allege that Lee then recruited Joshua Applegate, who was a minor under federal law at the time of the offense, and therefore charged as an adult in state court rather than in the federal indictment.
On April 24, 2016, documents allege that Beckley, Donovan and Lee practiced for the murder of Martinez-Gaxiola by discharging various firearms at the Lee residence. On April 25, 2016, Mendivil-Balderama traveled with Martinez-Gaxiola to the Lee residence on the pretext that Beckley would pay the drug debt.
Court records indicate that Beckley, Donovan, Lee and Applegate were waiting at the residence; Donovan and Lee were allegedly armed with handguns. Upon arrival, Mendivil-Balderama got out of the vehicle first. When Martinez-Gaxiola exited the vehicle, Donovan and Applegate allegedly opened fire and Martinez-Gaxiola fell to the ground. Eventually, Donovan went up to where Martinez-Gaxiola lay and shot him once in the head, according to court documents. Martinez-Gaxiola was armed with a handgun but did not discharge it during his murder, prosecutors said.
Lee’s neighbors reported the shots fired at the residence. It is estimated that the co-conspirators expended 30 to 60 rounds of ammunition during the murder.
Webster County deputies responded to the location. Hearing the emergency sirens, the co-conspirators allegedly attempted to conceal Martinez-Gaxiola under a piece of tin siding, and then fled area. When the deputies arrived, they found Martinez-Gaxiola, who was still alive but critically hurt and who died before transportation to the hospital.
Law enforcement officers captured all the alleged co-conspirators by the end of the day on April 25, 2016.
Donovan and Lee are the final co-defendants to be sentenced in this case. Mendivil-Balderama pleaded guilty to the same charges and was sentenced on March 8, 2018, to 50 years in federal prison without parole. Beckley pleaded guilty to the same charges and was sentenced on Feb. 26, 2018, to 40 years in federal prison without parole.
Co-defendant Jourdan Ashley McGinnis, 29, of Nixa, also pleaded guilty to his role in the drug-trafficking conspiracy. McGinnis was sentenced on Dec. 18, 2017, to seven years and 10 months in federal prison without parole.
This case was prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Timothy A. Garrison and Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eggert. It was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Christian County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Greene County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Lawrence County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Webster County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Seymour, Mo., Police Department, the Rogersville, Mo., Police Department, the Springfield, Mo., Police Department and the Combined Ozarks Multijurisdictional Enforcement Team (COMET).
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