Witnesses connected to Madison death investigation appear in court

MADISON, Mo. - 26-year-old Zachary Dawson was found shot in a Monroe County home Feb. 19.

Since then, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and other agencies have been working on what they're calling a death investigation.

Two witnesses who were arrested in connection with the death investigation appeared in the Monroe County Circuit Court on Tuesday.

According to court documents and testimony from the lead investigator on the case, Jessica Munoz of Moberly called 911 on Feb. 19 and told the dispatcher Dawson shot himself.

Munoz told deputies on the scene she and Dawson were the only ones present during the shooting.

But after an interview, she admitted Jason Lage of Fulton was also there, but that he told her not to tell investigators.

Investigators said Munoz claimed she was in the bathroom when she heard the gunshot.

The lead investigator said it was later found out that Lage took his coat and other items and fled the scene after Dawson was shot.

After an interview with Lage, he told investigators he took the items from the home because he didn't want it to be known that he was at the residence. He admitted to police that the gun was in his hand prior to the shooting and that his fingerprints were on the weapon.

According to statements made by Munoz and Lage, Dawson handed the gun to Lage, who held it briefly before handing it back to Dawson before the weapon was fired.

But the investigator testified Dawson's wound didn't fit with suicide. She said Dawson was shot in the left side of the head from close range, but that Dawson was right-handed. She said the angle of entrance and exit wound of the bullet made suicide not impossible, but unlikely.

Jamie Ash also testified Tuesday. Ash was a former cellmate of Munoz. Ash said Munoz told her she told the prosecutor she was in the bathroom when she heard the gunshot, but said she knew what really happened and that it was an accident.

According to Ash, Munoz claimed Lage was re-loading the clip for Dawson when the gun went off.

Right now, Munoz is charged with hindering prosecution and Lage is charged with tampering with physical evidence and unlawful possession of a firearm because he is a previously convicted felon.

The Monroe County prosecutor said she did not have a comment Tuesday because the investigation is still ongoing.

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