Teen pleads guilty for drug conspiracy that led to murder

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - One of six people charged for a drug trafficking conspiracy that led to an ambush killing in Webster County pleaded guilty in federal court on Monday. Nathaniel Lee could get two consecutive prison sentences, each between 10 years and life.

Lee, 19, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, and discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, resulting in murder. Investigators said he was part of a group that planned to sell meth in Christian, Dallas, Greene, and Webster counties.

Five of the six suspects are from southwest Missouri and the other is from Mexico. Investigators said they were involved in a meth-distribution conspiracy that led to the killing of Oscar Adan Martinez-Gaxiola, 24, in April 2016.

The other suspects are Brooke Beckley, 20, of Nixa; Jourdan McGinnis, 28, of Nixa; Anthony Donovan, 20, of Springfield; Yovanny Aroldo Mendivil-Balderrama, 23, a Mexican citizen; and Joshua Applegate, 18, of Fordland. The Webster County prosecuting attorney initially filed murder charges but agreed to dismiss them against five of the suspects when the U.S. Attorney’s Office said it would prosecute the group. Applegate is charged with second-degree murder in state court because he was 17 years old when Martinez-Gaxiola was killed.

Investigators said Beckley worked out an agreement with Mendivil-Balderrama that if she killed Martinez-Gaxiola she would get more time to pay a drug debt. Investigators say Lee and Applegate agreed to help Donovan and Beckley with the ambush murder.