Gum Receives 25 Years in Alford Plea For Shooting Death of Palmyra, MO Woman

By Benjamin Cox on May 26, 2023 at 9:44am

A Palmyra, Missouri man captured in Petersburg wanted for murder is heading to prison.

36-year old Raymond D. Gum appeared in Shelby County Missouri Circuit Court yesterday entered an Alford plea on an amended charge of voluntary manslaughter in connection to the death of Crystal Cooper in Palmyra, Missouri in September 2021.

Gum was charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and unlawful possession of a firearm in connection with Cooper’s death outside her home in the 100 block of E. Jefferson in Palmyra. Gum and Cooper reportedly were in a relationship at the time, but had a documented history of domestic violence. Cooper was found dead September 3, 2021. Gum was taken into custody by Menard County Sheriff’s Deputies and U.S. Marshals in Petersburg on September 4, 2021 n the 300 block of East Liberty in Petersburg.

According to the legal definition of an Alford plea, the defendant in a criminal case does not admit to the criminal act and asserts innocence but admits that the evidence presented by the prosecution would be likely to persuade a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt based upon circumstantial evidence and testimony favoring the prosecution and difficulty finding evidence and witnesses that would aid the defense.

According to Muddy River News, Gum agreed to enter the Alford plea in exchange for an amended charge of voluntary manslaughter, a Class B felony; armed criminal action, an unclassified felony; and unlawful possession of a firearm, a Class D felony. The first-degree murder charge was dropped.

Judge Frederick Tucker sentenced Gum to 15 years in prison for manslaughter, 5 years for armed criminal action, and 5 years for unlawful firearm possession. Gum will be required to serve the sentences consecutively for a total of 25 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.