An Anchorage man who shot and killed another man in a heroin deal gone wrong in 2012 pleaded guilty to manslaughter Tuesday.
A judge sentenced Justin Stegall, 23, to serve 19 years behind bars for killing Shawn Reid, 27, as well as weapon misconduct and suspended time from a previous felony theft conviction, prosecutor Clint Campion said.
It was March 2012 when Stegall went to Reid's Dewberry Street apartment and confronted Reid about a drug debt, according to charges filed against Stegall. Reid's girlfriend told police a man who fit Stegall's description argued with Reid, beat him with a gun, then shot Reid, the charges say.
Detectives tied Stegall to the killing through text messages and phone calls to a Florida heroin connection and Stegall's phone records, which showed he had been at Reid's apartment when the shooting happened, the charges said.
A grand jury indicted Stegall on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree robbery. Despite the information about Reid's drug debt, the investigation did not seem to indicate Stegall intended to kill Reid, said Campion, the prosecutor.
"That was sort of the undercurrent of the whole case, that there was some sort of dispute about a drug transaction," Campion said. "Our inclination is always to hold people accountable at the highest level, as supported by the evidence. But a trial outcome is not certain."
Reid's family was not happy about the plea deal and thought the sentence was too light, Campion said.
"We felt like we came to a resolution that held him accountable," Campion said. "No matter how long the sentence is, we can't bring their family member back."
Reach Casey Grove at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4589.
By CASEY GROVE