Fulton man found guilty in 2014 Madison murder

FULTON, Mo. - A jury found Jason Lage guilty of second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the 2014 shooting of Zachary Dawson.

A jury in Callaway County made the decision after eight hours of deliberation Thursday related to the crime in Madison, an hour north of Columbia. The jury acquitted Lage on one count of tampering with physical evidence.

The case was moved from Monroe County to Callaway County in 2017.

Police arrested Lage in February 2014 in connection to Dawson's death on South Farrell for tampering with physical evidence. Nine months later, Monroe County prosecutor Talley Kendrick filed murder charges against Lage and Jessica Munoz.

Authorities said Lage gave several different accounts of Dawson's death after the murder. In 2016, Kendrick upgraded the murder charge to first-degree murder after conversations Lage had with others in jail. Lage told others that the gun went off when he held it to Dawson's head to rob Dawson "for his car and hat he had."

Lage at one point told investigators the gun accidentally went off during a game of Russian roulette and that it was a suicide.

Munoz told police that she and Lage disposed of some evidence at the home after the shooting. She also allegedly told investigators Dawson was "murmuring" when they returned to the home. A doctor at the University of Missouri Hospital that took part in the autopsy said the type of gunshot wound Dawson suffered was survivable.

Kendrick told ABC 17 News after the verdict that she was pleased with the outcome.

"Zach Dawson's family has waited a long time for justice," Kendrick said in an email.

ABC 17 News asked Gerald Mueller, Lage's attorney, for a comment late Thursday and have not yet heard back.

Mueller argued that the shooting was either suicide or an accident, according to the Hannibal Courier-Post. He said Dawson had made suicidal posts on Facebook a month before his death, and that Lage had just handed Dawson the gun prior to the shooting.

Munoz pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and tampering with physical evidence in July 2016. She received a seven-year sentence from Judge Wesley Dalton of Audrain County.


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