Man pleads guilty to 2017 robbery that lead to shooting of Independence officer

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — A 54-year-old man has plead guilty to the 2017 robbery of Don Fowler that lead to the shooting of Independence officer Thomas Wagstaff.

Jackson County prosecutors say Donald Nussbaum plead guilty to first degree robbery and armed criminal action.

Nussbaum admitted to driving Joseph Wyatt and Ronar Santiago-Torres to Fowler’s home on March 29, 2017 with the intent to commit a robbery. Nussbaum, the son of Fowler’s girlfriend, was aware of the plans to tie up the victim and obtain the combination to a safe.

A judge found Wyatt guilty in December on eight felony charges, including robbery, burglary, assault and kidnapping. Wyatt was sentenced back in February to a total of 40 years in prison for those charges.

According to court documents, Wyatt and Santiago-Torres forced their way into a home and beat up Fowler, who was 82-year-old at the time.

Fowler testified he was sitting at his home computer, looking at stocks when two young men knocked on his door. They offered to clean his gutters, then mentioned a lost dog and ended up leaving.

Fowler said minutes later they came back and forced their way into his home, shoved him into a glass sliding door and repeatedly beat him and threatened to “blow his head off.”

They made repeated demands to access his safe, but he refused to give them the code. They zip tied his hands and stole a stack of cash and a gun. Then police arrived, and the suspects demanded the man’s car keys.

Police said the men got into the victim’s SUV and backed out through the garage. The man said he then heard gunshots. Police took him to the ground until they learned he was the victim and got him to the hospital.

During the chaos, Wagstaff was shot. The Independence officer suffered a serious brain injury but survived.

The victims, Fowler and Wagstaff waived their appearances at Monday’s’s hearing.

Sentencing for Nussbaum is set for September 23, 2019 at 9 a.m.

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