Verdict reached in 2016 Carthage murder case

CARTHAGE, Mo. – A jury finds Ricky Marchbanks guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action.

Marchbanks is accused of shooting and killing Jeremy Neeper in 2016 in Carthage, Missouri. Prosecution and defense tried to prove whether or not it was in self-defense.

According to court documents, on May 16, 2016, around 10:19 p.m., Carthage police officers went to 1032 Valley about a man being shot. They got there and found Neeper lying in the yard with a gunshot wound to the chest.

Witnesses on scene who saw the incident identified the suspect as Ricky Lee Marchbanks.

Prosecution called several witnesses to the stand on Monday and Tuesday.

Defense called one witness today, day three of the trial. April Clement, Marchbanks’s next-door neighbor, used a diagram to help illustrate what she saw the night of the crime.

She says she heard arguing while getting ready for bed. She couldn’t tell who it was, then heard a single gunshot and a scream. Clement says she called 911. While on the phone with the dispatcher, she says she looked out a window to see what was going on. She saw someone run through Marchbanks’s and Neeper’s driveway areas, toward Marchbanks’s shed.

While being cross-examined by the defense, she said it was between 150 and 200 feet between her house and Marchbanks’s shed. She said she didn’t remember if she recognized the person, or if it was a man or woman.

The defense rested their case.

After a recess, the defense made a motion for acquittal. It was overruled by the judge.

The jury was given instructions around 1:00 p.m.

Ricky Marchbanks murder trial

Attorneys work on jury instructions on day 3 of a Carthage murder trial on Jan. 15, 2020 (2016 mugshot of Ricky Marchbanks)

Attorneys gave their closing arguments.

Each side was given 30 minutes to present their closing arguments.

Prosecutors Nate Dally and Theresa Kenney split their time to 15 minutes each.

In his closing statement, Dally went over the charges and explained some of the jury instructions. He also focused on the testimony from witnesses that said Marchbanks had said before the shooting that he “would have to kill Neeper.” He also asserted that Marchbanks saying he was going to do it, and then getting a gun, choosing to get out of his truck when Neeper hit his truck, and shooting Neeper when he was unarmed made him guilty of premeditated murder.

“He killed him because he turned his mower over and he was mad,” said Dally.

Defense attorney Angela Acree started her closing argument by stating that less than an hour after the shooting, Marchbanks called his cousin Ken McWilliams and told him he had to shoot Neeper out of self-defense. Acree went on to say the whole incident happened because Marchbanks called the police on Jeremy and Sharron Neeper earlier that day when Jeremy pushed Sharron into their truck, and that pushed Neeper over the edge. She asserted that caused Neeper to get a pellet gun from in his house later that night when he heard Marchbanks truck, and point the gun at him in the rain and dark.

“He didn’t kill him over this lawnmower. That’s ridiculous. That’s ridiculous. He killed him because the man had a gun and was pointing it at him,” said Acree. ”

Prosecuting attorney Theresa Kenney then focused on the evidence that Marchbanks didn’t mention that Neeper had a gun to anyone until he left a second voice mail for his cousin an hour after the shooting.

“If Jeremy Neeper had had a gun and Ricky Marchbanks had shot in self-defense, then when he got back in that truck, he would have looked at his buddy Jesse and said, ‘Oh my God, did you see that? He pulled a gun, I didn’t have a choice, I had to shoot.’ and called 911,” said Kenney.

Then the jury began deliberation around 2:20 p.m. and had a verdict around 3:00 p.m.

Marchbanks was found guilty of 1st-degree murder and armed criminal action.

A March 9th sentencing hearing is scheduled. Marchbanks is not entitled to bond under the charges.

We spoke to Theresa Kenney after the trial about the quick verdict.

“I think it’s indicative of the evidence against Mr. Marchbanks. The state had a solid case,” says Kenney. “We are very pleased with the outcome. We are grateful for the opportunity to have provided some justice for the family of Jeremy Neeper. We are especially thankful for the patience of the jury, it was a long three days, and we are grateful for their time and attention that they put into reaching a fair and just verdict.”