Man gets 20 years in 2018 killing of retired St. Louis police sergeant

Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 4:19 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2023 at 10:10 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Today a St. Louis man reached a plea deal and received a 20-year prison sentence for killing a retired city police sergeant during a robbery in 2018.

According to a release from the city, 20-year-old Jalynn Garner pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and two counts of armed criminal action. Garner admitted to fatally shooting retired St. Louis Police Sgt. Ralph Harper while trying to rob him on Oct. 29, 2018, in the city’s Tower Grove South neighborhood.

At the time of the shooting, Garner was 16. Both he and, then 15-year-old, Justin Mathews, students at Confluence Academy, were certified adults to face trial. Sgt. Harper was 67 at the time of the shooting. He retired from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department in 2007 after more than 30 years. The teens approached Harper after he parked his car while on his way to babysit two children in his family.

Mathews plead guilty to several charges in 2019, and was sentenced to Dual Jurisdiction, a state juvenile rehabilitation program. Garner had pleaded guilty in 2019 as charged but was later allowed to withdraw those guilty pleas. His lawyers argued he had pleaded guilty in order to meet a deadline for eligibility into Dual Jurisdiction, which later found him unsuitable for the program. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.