A Joplin man pleaded guilty Monday in U. S. District Court in Springfield to two felony drug charges in connection with the August 19, 2011, death of Ryan Cockrell, son of former major league outfielder and Joplin Parkwood all-state quarterback Alan Cockrell.
According to court records, Lavar Beard, 33, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin and distributing heroin leading to a death. According to a plea agreement, which has not yet been agreed to by the judge, Beard will serve 25 years on each count, to run concurrently.
A description of Beard's crimes was included in the online court record:
Beginning on or about June 2011, and continuing to on or about September 20, 2011, in Jasper County, in the Western District of Missouri, and elsewhere, defendant had an agreement or understanding with Ashley Henson, Jason Hirshey, Brian D. Ferguson, Haley J. Ferguson, and others, to distribute 100 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of heroin. The defendant voluntarily and intentionally joined in the agreement and at the time defendant joined in the agreement, he knew the purpose of the agreement or understanding.During the course of, and in furtherance of the conspiracy, defendant obtained heroin from a source of supply outside of Joplin, Missouri. The defendant transported the heroin to Joplin, Missouri, and the surrounding area for distribution to others. The defendant’s co-conspirators assisted in the distribution of heroin in and around Joplin, Missouri. The amount of heroin distributed during the course of the conspiracy,including relevant conduct, was more than 100 grams, but less than 400 grams.On or about August 19, 2011, in Jasper County, Missouri, defendant knowingly and intentionally distributed heroin, and as a result of the use of this heroin, Ryan Cockrell died.
Haley Ferguson, another of those indicted, is scheduled to plead guilty Friday morning during a hearing in Springfield.