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Three men will be sentenced in Masaryktown slaying

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Published:   |   Updated: March 2, 2014 at 01:34 PM

BROOKSVILLE - Richard Denard Harris, Nicholas Trammell and Robert Willoughby broke into a Masaryktown home on an August night in 2011.

Each of the men, who were in their early 20s at the time, carried weapons into the house. By the time they left 174 Grand Ave. with cash, jewelry and other items, Michael Pfeifer, 27, was mortally wounded. He was dead when paramedics arrived.

At 1 p.m. on Monday, Harris, Trammell and Willoughby will be sentenced by Judge Stephen Toner.

Each of the men, who were indicted in September 2011 on charges of first-degree murder, armed burglary and home-invasion robbery, pleaded to lesser charges and await word of their punishments.

In December 2012, Judge Daniel Merritt Sr. accepted an open plea deal that will send Willoughby, now 26, to prison for 10 years on charges of home-invasion robbery while armed. In exchange for the lesser sentence, Willoughby agreed to testify against his co-defendants and is expected to be sentenced on the two additional charges that include murder.

In August, Judge Anthony Tatti accepted plea deals for Harris, now 27, and Trammell, now 23. They pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder charges and face a minimum of 25 years in prison, with a maximum of life, when sentenced.

The men were arrested less than two weeks after the shooting. Witnesses at Harris' home after the shooting heard him recall details of the incident, according to court records, and eventually told law enforcement.

In October 2012, Willoughby told Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino, who is prosecuting the case, his account of the evening of August 16:

Before the robbery, Harris asked him if he knew the "white boy" who sold drugs and drove a Mercedes-Benz.

Willoughby said he knew the man, through his son's mother, Megan Rae Glass.

According to Willoughby, he called Glass, who knew Pfeifer had drugs and cash. Later, when Pfeifer invited Glass over to his home, she called Willoughby to let him know Pfeifer would be home.

Glass, 26, wanted in on the robbery, Willoughby said, because her boyfriend was in jail and she needed money to bail him out.

Willoughby told authorities he called Harris, who told him and Trammell to "get ready."

Willoughby and Trammell dressed in dark clothes, grabbed ski masks and gloves and drove to Harris' house to pick him up. Harris was dressed normally, Willoughby said, and was carrying a 9 mm handgun.

Harris later switched his gun with Willoughby's AK-47. Trammell carried a shotgun, Willoughby said.

At about 10 p.m., the men parked in a wooded area near Pfeifer's house and entered the rear of the building, Willoughby told investigators.

"I wasn't really planning to partake in a serious amount of the robbery," Willoughby told Magrino, saying he just was going to act as a lookout.

Willoughby started ransacking the house looks for drugs and valuables, and eventually heard a "thump" and two "booms" he recognized as gunshots.

He ran out the front door, carrying an Xbox, and jumped in the men's car with Trammell and Harris, who also had stolen goods.

Harris later said he shot Pfeifer, and Trammell said Pfeifer had reached for the gun, according to Willoughby, court records show. Trammell said the weapon fired into the ground and the second shot must have hit Pfeifer.

Back at Harris' house, Willoughby noticed Harris wasn't wearing shoes and had blood on himself and the AK-47.

Willoughby and Trammell left, took a shower and later dropped off the guns and stolen items at a friend's house. Willoughby told officials he didn't know Pfeifer died until the following day and didn't know the other men were arrested until he was.

A bloody bandage found on Pfeifer's shoe matched Harris' DNA, according to court documents.

Pfeifer's roommate, Cliff Kearney, was assaulted during the home invasion but was not seriously injured, according to reports.

Glass, who tipped off Willoughby and told him how to get to Pfeifer's house, was convicted of principal to home-invasion robbery in August and sentenced to seven years in prison, court documents show. She also is serving time on charges of grand theft of a motor vehicle, credit card fraud and possession of a controlled substance.

wbiddlecombe@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5283

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