Man pleads guilty to killing person who was buying a gun from him in 2019

A man pleaded guilty to charges accusing him of shooting and killing another man during a drug deal and/or gun sale in 2019.
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 9:56 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 6, 2023 at 9:59 AM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A man pleaded guilty to charges accusing him of shooting and killing another man during a drug deal and/or gun sale in 2019.

According to the St. Louis County Police Department, Ivan Henley, 27, pleaded guilty on Monday to Murder 2nd Degree and three related offenses, in Division 17 of St. Louis County Circuit Court. Henley admitted to shooting and killing Kelvon Phillips on Feb. 17, 2019 in the rear parking lot of the Budget Inn located at 1405 Dunn Rd. in Spanish Lake.

The court sentenced him to 16 years at the plea hearing; Henley must serve 85% percent of the sentence before he becomes eligible for parole. Christopher King with St. Louis County says surveillance video from the Budget Inn shows Henley step out of his vehicle, enter the front passenger seat of the Phillips’ vehicle, then go back to his vehicle’s trunk and return to the passenger seat of the Phillips vehicle. Shortly after, the video shows several muzzle flashes. Police say it cannot be determined who fired the first shot or what precipitated the gunfire. Henley then re-entered his vehicle and fled the scene.

No firearms were located by investigators, although analysis of bullet casings at the scene show that two firearms were used. According to County PD, DNA analysis showed that fresh blood found on the front passenger seat of Phillips’ vehicle was Henley’s blood. After searching multiple phones linked to Henley, investigators learned that the two had been communicating and Henley tried to sell Phillips a 9mm firearm. Police said there were also messages between the two regarding previous meetings to buy and sell illicit drugs.

”From the evidence in this case, the roles of victim and defendant could easily have been reversed, given that they were meeting to make an illegal transaction, both exchanged gunfire and both drew blood,” said St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell. “The loss of Mr. Phillips’ life is a tragedy and, working with our law enforcement partners, we are holding his killer accountable. But we also see on a larger scale that so many people in our community are living and dying by drugs and guns, and that is equally, if not more of, a tragedy.”

The St. Louis County Police Department investigated the incident.