Gary Monshell Dantzson trial

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 26, 2012

Admitted trigger man gets plea deal after trial testimony

By Billy Davis

A killer who admitted on the witness stand that he gunned down friend Ira Phillips in Crenshaw in 2011 has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

 Gary Monshell Dantzson, 23, entered a guilty plea to manslaughter before Circuit Judge Jimmy McClure Tuesday in Sardis.

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Five years of the 20-year sentence were suspended pending good behavior when Dantzson is released, and a conspiracy count against was remanded as part of the plea deal.

The plea deal also reduced Dantzson’s original charge of capital murder, which carries a life sentence or the death penalty.

Batesville attorney David Walker represented Dantzson as public defender.

“The plea agreement shows that if you cooperate with law enforcement, it benefits you,” Walker said of his client’s plea deal.

In August, Dantzson testified for state prosecutors against co-defendant Damion Stokes, who was also facing a capital murder charge.

Authorities alleged that Dantzson shot and killed Phillips, who was 20, over a drug dispute with Vincent “Unc” Ruffin, a reputed Crenshaw drug dealer.

Dantzson testified that Stokes handed him a Tec-9 handgun, even though Dantzson said he believed they were supposed to “whoop” Phillips for owing money to Ruffin. When Phillips ran, Dantzson said he opened fire.  

An autopsy showed Phillips was shot six times according to a forensic pathologist who testified.

“Did you shoot Ira Phillips?” Assistant District Attorney Jay Hale asked him.

“Yes, sir,” Dantzson replied.

Jurors found Stokes guilty of conspiracy but found him not guilty of capital murder.