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Teen sentenced in murder of retired St. Louis police sergeant

A judge suspended his sentence and placed him in juvenile detention. He will be eligible for parole at age 21 if he completes the juvenile detention program
Credit: SLMPD

ST. LOUIS — A 16-year-old boy has been sentenced as an adult to a suspended 20 years prison term for the robbery and fatal shooting of a retired St. Louis police officer Ralph Harper last year.

Justin Mathews pleaded guilty in October to second-degree murder, first-degree robbery, resisting arrest, tampering with a motor vehicle and two counts of armed criminal action.

RELATED: 16-year-old charged as adult in fatal shooting of retired police officer

A judge suspended Mathews' 20-year sentence and placed him in juvenile detention until he turns 21. He will be eligible for parole at age 21 if he completes the juvenile detention program. If not, he will begin serving his sentence.

Mathews was 15 years old when police said he and then-16-year-old Jalynn Garner tried to rob Harper.

Garner also pleaded guilty, but intends to withdraw his plea at a hearing on Dec. 19.

ST. LOUIS - A 17-year-old has pleaded guilty in the fatal shooting of a retired police officer in south St. Louis last year. Jalynn Garner entered the plea in court Tuesday. He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, two counts of armed criminal action and first-degree robbery. He's scheduled to be sentenced Nov.

The retired sergeant was parking outside his great nephew's home to watch the nephew's two young children, the great-nephew previously told 5 On Your Side. 

Harper's wife was already inside the home watching the children when he pulled up and parked outside. That's when police said a person with a gun approached Harper, according to a probable cause statement. It was about 7:30 a.m. 

Credit: St. Louis Metropolitan Police
Retired Sergeant Ralph E. Harper

A confrontation took place in the street and gunfire was exchanged. Harper was able to make one call for help. When officers arrived, he was unconscious and barely breathing. He later died at the hospital.

Ret. Sgt. Harper served 33 years with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. His last assignment was in the juvenile division and he retired about 10 years ago.

RELATED: Teen pleads guilty to murdering retired police sergeant in south city

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