KC man pleads guilty to shooting Z-Trip driver 26 times during 2018 robbery

A Kansas City, Missouri, man pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to the armed robbery of a female Z-Trip driver whom he shot approximately 26 times with a rifle from the back seat in 2018.

Derron D. Nevels, 20, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs to one count of robbery and one count of discharging a firearm during a violent crime.

Nevels was picked up by a Z-Trip driver at 3715 Wabash Ave. on the evening of Dec. 4, 2018. The Z-Trip taxi in which the crime was committed is equipped with interior and exterior cameras. The cameras show Nevels getting into the rear passenger seat at approximately 8 p.m. The Z-Trip driver took him to 914 Benton Ave.

When they arrived at the destination, they waited in the vehicle for somebody to bring out the fare. When a second suspect approached the vehicle, Nevels held a Smith and Wesson Military & Police .22-caliber rifle up to the victim’s head and demanded she give him everything. The victim attempted to explain that Nevels was being recorded, to which Nevels responded, “I don’t care; give me everything.” Nevels also appeared to be taking a photo or video with his cell phone, according to an affidavit filed in support of the federal criminal complaint.

The victim turned toward the back seat and grabbed onto the rifle, and a struggle ensued. A second suspect hit the victim in the face, then reached around the driver’s seat and began striking the victim in the back and the back of the victim’s head. The victim released Nevels’ rifle and then Nevels leaned back in his seat, chambered a live round, and opened fire on the victim from close range. Nevels fired approximately 26 times into the victim before he and his accomplice ran from the scene.

About 10 minutes later, Nevels and another suspect returned to the victim’s vehicle to retrieve a cell phone Nevels had left behind when he fled from the scene of the earlier robbery and assault. Nevels can be heard on the Z-Trip vehicle’s video asking the victim if she is okay.  The victim indicates she has been shot. Nevels asked the victim if she had called the police, and she informed him that she had called the police. He got into the rear driver’s side of the taxi and picked up the cell phone, then left the scene.

When police officers arrived, the victim was transported to an area hospital in critical condition. According to court documents, she continues to suffer from her serious and debilitating injuries inflicted by Nevels.

Investigators used cell phone and Facebook data to identify Nevels and the distinctive rifle he used in the robbery. On December 10, 2018, Nevels was seen getting onto a bus near Prospect Avenue and Swope Parkway with two other men. Nevels was arrested when he got off the bus at 11th Street and Grand Avenue. Nevels was carrying a loaded rifle hidden in his waistband with the barrel going down his right pant leg. The rifle was later positively identified as the weapon used to shoot the Z-Trip driver during the robbery. Two other individuals were taken into custody but are not charged in the federal complaint.

Co-defendants Bailee Anna Maria Prieto, 21, of Kansas City, Kan., and Melani Yitzel Collazo Jimenez, also known as “Mel,” 23, of Kansas City, Mo., have each pleaded guilty to being accessories after the fact to the robbery.

Prieto used or allowed her phone to be used to order the Z-Trip that was robbed. Prieto disposed of her phone after the robbery to avoid the police searching it.

Jimenez went to the scene to help Nevels retrieve his phone from the Z-Trip where he left it after the robbery and shooting. Jimenez provided her apartment for Nevels, Prieto, and others to stay the night after the robbery.

Neither Prieto nor Jimenez reported anything to law enforcement. The two of them communicated with and were associated with Nevels and others before, during, and after the robbery and shooting.

Under federal statutes, Nevels is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole. Prieto and Jimenez are each subject to a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Rhoades. It was investigated by the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department and the FBI.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

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