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A Farmington man has been sentenced after entering a plea to second-degree burglary and tampering with physical evidence in connection with the murder of local businessman Michael VanStavern, according to St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney Jerrod Mahurin.

Mahurin said Jeremy Reed, 38, of Farmington, was facing a maximum of 11 years on the two charges. Mahurin was asked by Reed's attorney on Friday if he would consider offering eight years for a plea agreement.

Mahurin spoke to the family of the victim and ultimately agreed to offer the reduced sentence.

Reed entered an Alford plea to the charges. Mahurin said Reed turned and faced the family of the victim during the court proceedings to apologize for his role in the crime.

“That’s something we don’t often see defendants do," Mahurin said. "It’s a step in the right direction for the family. I think they might have felt it was at least a step toward closure.”

At the end of the hearing, Circuit Court Judge Wendy Wexler Horn sentenced Reed to eight years. 

Reed was arrested in November of 2016 after a pursuit on U.S. 67 ended with in the fleeing vehicle crashing near Desloge. The driver of the vehicle fled, while the passenger, identified as Reed, was apprehended at the scene. The body of Michael VanStavern was found in the vehicle.

Anthony Caruthers, 29, of Bonne Terre was later apprehended near the scene of the crash. Reed and Caruthers both made statements to the police about their roles in the murder.

The statements indicated that Caruthers had carried out the murder of VanStavern at the Red Cedar Lodge, then contacted Reed to help dispose of the body. The two purchased materials to transport the body and clean the crime scene, and additionally went to VanStavern's Farmington apartment and took items, which they attempted to pawn.

Caruthers' jury trial was recently continued from February to April after a change of defense counsel. Mahurin said Reed's guilty plea offers the prosecution additional options in the prosecution of Caruthers' charges.

“Of course, it opens up some more avenues for me on the back end if I maybe want to call him (Reed) as a witness," Mahurin said. "I don’t know if I will yet. I don’t feel like I need to at this point.”

Jacob Scott is a reporter with the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3616 or at jscott@dailyjournalonline.com.

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