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Mexico, Missouri Teen Pleads Guilty in Ohio Drifter’s Death

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MEXICO, Mo. (AP) - Jordan Clay Harvey was raised to obey his truck-driver father, his attorney said. Even if it meant helping his parents and older brothers kill a man.

Harvey was just 14 years old in December 2009 when 20-year-old James William Boyd McNeely, an Ohio drifter, was killed in the Harvey family’s home in Laddonia, a town of about 600 people northwest of St. Louis. McNeely’s frozen corpse was found days later in the refrigerated compartment of Chester “C.J.” Harvey’s tractor-trailer parked east of Vandalia.

Jordan Harvey, now 16, pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder in a deal that calls for him to be sentenced as a juvenile next month even though he faced an adult charge. His attorney defended the sentencing deal, which would allow Harvey to be released at the age of 18 or 21.

“This was a rural family with a traditional hierarchical structure,” attorney George Batek said. “Whatever Dad said was what the family had to do.”

Chester Harvey has said in a series of phone interviews with The Associated Press that he picked up McNeely in Denver while driving, and the two became embroiled in a drug scheme because Harvey’s family had fallen on hard times while caring for a young child who required daily kidney dialysis.

Chester Harvey claimed he had a falling out with McNeely after the drifter became violent with his wife and three of his sons - a 7-year-old, Jordan Harvey and an older brother who also is charged in the killing.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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