SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Luis Perez, the man who was accused of shooting and killing three people in Springfield in 2018 was found guilty on three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of assault Wednesday.
A bench trial was held for Perez in Greene County with Judge Thomas Mountjoy presiding. Perez is scheduled to be sentenced on January 6, 2023.
Perez was charged with shooting and killing his ex-roommates in 2018. The next day, police said he killed the woman who gave him the gun he used in the other killings.
The 2018 homicides
On Nov. 1, 2018, Springfield police found four shooting victims at 906 E. Locust St. in Springfield. Aaron “Joshua” Hampton and Steven Marler died from their injuries. Two other people were shot and hospitalized.
On Nov. 3, 2018, Springfield police were called to 2146 N. Oakland Ave., where Sabrina Starr was found deceased with multiple gunshot wounds.
Perez was originally charged with three counts of first-degree murder for shooting Hampton, Marler and Starr. He was charged with two counts of first-degree assault for shooting the other two victims at the East Locust address. He was also charged with five counts of armed criminal action and one count of tampering with physical evidence.
In the days after Perez was arrested, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released a statement that stated a jail in New Jersey where Perez had been behind bars could have prevented the 2018 deaths he’s accused of.
ICE said Perez was in the United States illegally and was released from the Middlesex County Jail in New Jersey in February 2018, but jail officials did not inform ICE.
In 2019, Perez rejected a plea offer that would have sent him to prison for life and would have spared him from the death penalty.
Family reacts to guilty verdict
“Today we are the victors and our children are the heroes,” said Deborah Elkins, the mother of Aaron Hampton, who went by the name Joshua. “Because of our children, no one, this man will never kill another person. So all three of our children died heroes.”
The courtroom was filled with sighs of relief and cries as Judge Mountjoy announced the guilty verdicts Wednesday.
Hampton’s brother, Zach said he’s been waiting four years for this verdict.
“Just a breath of fresh air pretty much,” Hampton said. “Like I’m not surprised, I knew it was going to happen but I was just glad to finally hear it.”
“I know he’s looking over my family and my three kids. He missed out on two of them,” Hampton said.
Elkins said the sentencing will be the key to closure for her and other family members of the victims.
“Locking the door and walking away, because then we can say we know where he’s at, we know where he’s going to be,” Elkins said. “Another mother will never live the life I have lived for the last four years.”
Aaron D. Anderson was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Hampton and Marler, and with first-degree assault of the other two victims at the East Locust address. Anderson was also charged with one count of tampering with physical evidence. Anderson has a pre-trial conference scheduled for Dec. 20, 2022.
Dalia J. Garcia has been charged with one count of tampering with physical evidence in this case and is scheduled to appear in court again in March 2023.
Nyadia Burden pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree and is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence.