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Once charged with murder, man gets probation in ambush

18-year-old Joshua Applegate, of Fordland, was sentenced to probation after admitting Thursday to unlawful use of a weapon. (File)

A man once charged with first-degree murder in a drug trafficker's ambush killing in southwest Missouri has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

The Springfield News-Leader reported that 18-year-old Joshua Applegate, of Fordland, was sentenced to probation after admitting Thursday to unlawful use of a weapon. The charge stemmed from his role in the April 2016 killing of 24-year-old Mexican national Oscar Martinez-Gaxiola outside of a house in a rural area of Webster County.

Prosecutors say Martinez-Gaxiola was trying to collect a drug debt owed by another suspect when he was slain.

Five others pleaded guilty in federal court. Applegate's case wasn't transferred to federal court because he was only 17 at the time of the killing. Applegate's attorney argued that her client wasn't in on the ambush plan.

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