This article ran in the print edition of the Deseret News on Oct. 19, 2017. It was inadvertently not published online. To correct the oversight, it is being published online Jan. 29, 2018.
SALT LAKE CITY — An accomplice in a drug-related killing pleaded guilty to reduced charges and was sentenced to prison Monday.
Erick Michael Burwell, who turns 39 this month, pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter and robbery, both second-degree felonies, in the death of 24-year-old Christian McDonald.
Burwell had originally faced charges of 3rd District Court with murder, a first-degree felony; aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony; and obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony.
Earlier this month, a jury found his co-defendant, 45-year-old Jeremiah Ray Hart, guilty of aggravated murder, a first-degree felony; plus obstructing justice and possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, second-degree felonies.
Hart — who has the moniker "Bullet," according to court records — shot and killed McDonald on Jan. 24, 2015. His body was found lying in the middle of the road near 1224 E. Parkway Ave.
McDonald had arranged to make a drug deal with Burwell, 38, who court documents say is also known as "Diablo." McDonald and his brother got into a car with Burwell who then picked up Hart, police say.
When Burwell stopped the car, Hart produced a gun and demanded that McDonald "give him the backpack containing the drugs," according to court documents. McDonald, who was in the front passenger seat, attempted to pull out his gun, police said. Hart, who was in the back seat, reached his hand around to the front and shot McDonald in the chest.Comment on this story
Hart himself was treated at a hospital for a gunshot wound. Investigators later used DNA collected from a blood trail at the crime scene to identify Hart.
A witness told detectives that after the shooting, Hart stated he "didn't regret it," and that "people need to act right," the charges state.
In plea documents, Burwell admitted to planning the robbery with Hart, leading to McDonald's death. After entering his plea, he was sentenced to two terms of at least one and up to 15 years in prison, which, according to his deal with prosecutors, will run concurrently.
Hart is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 29.