Three people from East St. Louis indicted in shooting death of St. Louis photographer

Three East St. Louisans have been charged with murder in the the shooting death of a St. Louis photographer during a carjacking attempt in March.

Demario Hunter, 33, Keombra James, 25, and Surrayah Hill, 21, were indicted last week by a federal grand jury in Missouri in connection with the killing in St. Louis. According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri, the indictment was unsealed September 23, 2019, once all defendants were arrested.

On March 18, James Anthony Sapone, 48, was about to go out to dinner with his fiancee, Amy Sprandel, about 9 p.m. in the 2700 block of Cherokee Street when they were approached by a man, Sprandel told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at the time.

When they got to their car, Sprandel told the newspaper that the man began arguing with Sapone and that he attempted to rob him. Sprandel was also approached by a woman who began to fight with her and take her purse.

The Post-Dispatch reported that Sprandel heard a loud bang, and saw the attackers run off. Sapone had been shot, and later died from his injuries.

Hunter, James and Hill have been charged with murder, attempted carjacking resulting in death and possession and discharge of a firearm in federal court. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office release, Hunter also faces a charge of being a felon in possession of ammunition.

The murder charge and attempted carjacking charge both carry maximum penalties of life imprisonment or “the imposition of death,” the release stated. The possession and discharge of a firearm charge carries a minimum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and Hunter’s possession of ammunition charge carries a maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment. All of the charges carry a potential fine of $250,000 per count.

According to Illinois Department of Corrections records, Hunter was previously convicted of armed robbery with a firearm and residential burglary. He was paroled in July 2018.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. The St. Louis County Police and the Illinois Department of Corrections Parole also assisted.

Hana Muslic has been a public safety reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat since August 2018, covering everything from crime and courts to accidents, fires and natural disasters. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and her previous work can be found in The Lincoln Journal-Star and The Kansas City Star.