KANSAS CITY, KAN. A Leavenworth man convicted of killing three people and attempting to kill a fourth faces a sentence of life in federal prison after jurors Tuesday spared him the death penalty.
Demetrius Hargrove, 31, who already is serving 35 years on kidnapping and firearms convictions, was found guilty earlier this month of three counts of capital murder and one count of conspiracy to kill a federal witness.
"We respect the jury's decision in this case," said U.S. Atty. Eric Melgren. "We believed it was our duty to seek the death penalty in light of evidence showing that Demetrius Hargrove acted in a cruel and depraved manner with reckless disregard for human life. It was the jury's duty to make the final decision, and we accept that decision."
Two of the counts stemmed from the February 1998 killing of Elmer Berg Jr., 23, and his sister, Misty Castor, 22, both of Leavenworth, during a drug trafficking crime.
Prosecutors said the third victim, Tyrone Richards, 27, was killed in July 1998 - several months after he was rescued during a failed kidnapping. Prosecutors said Hargrove and another man, Christopher Trotter, escaped when police pulled over the kidnappers' car.
Both men were charged with kidnapping Richards to keep him from talking to authorities about other criminal activities. Trotter later was tried and convicted, but was granted a new trial.
The government eventually dropped the kidnapping charge against Trotter because he cooperated and testified in the Berg and Castor murder case. Trotter was sentenced in July 2003 to life in prison for killing a pregnant woman and the father of her three children in an unrelated botched robbery at their home.
Hargrove's conviction for conspiracy to kill a federal witness stemmed from jailhouse phone calls he made to arrange the killing of Shedrick Kimbrel to prevent him from testifying in Richards' kidnapping, prosecutors said.