Shikles pleads guilty to voluntary manslaughter

Defendant Jon T. Shikles, appearing in Moniteau County Circuit Court before Judge Kenneth Hayden on Friday, March 15, entered a guilty plea to Voluntary Manslaughter, a Class B Felony.

He was sentenced to 10 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and ordered to report to the Moniteau County Sheriff's Department at 8 a.m. Monday, March 18, for transport.

The guilty plea to the lesser Class B Felony charge culminated an investigation which began on April 7, 2011, after a body was found about 7 a.m. April 7, 2011, at the edge of an alley in the 400 block of Stella Street, less than three blocks from the Courthouse Square. The plea of guilty was made only only a few days before Shikles was set to go to trial on the original charge of Class A Felony Murder in the Second Degree. The trial was to begin March 18.

After the body was found on April 7, Missouri Highway Patrol investigators assisted California Police Department and the Moniteau County Sheriff's Department in the investigation.

On April 8, the body was identified as that of Travis Dean Higgins, 31, California. Shikles was arrested late the same day.

The arrest was made after numerous witnesses were interviewed indicating an incident began at a local bar during the early hours of Thursday morning. Shikles pursued the victim to the the 400 block of Stella Street and beat him causing fatal injuries. The charge of second degree murder was filed Saturday, April 9.

Following the guilty plea at about 10 a.m. Friday, March 15, Shikles apologized to several members of the victim's family who were present in the courtroom. He said nothing can be changed, but he wished it had never happened and was very sorry.

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