One of two suspects pleads guilty to lesser charge in 2019 killing of Waco rapper

Casey Wade Hughes and Justice Allen Stanford
Casey Wade Hughes and Justice Allen Stanford(KWTX ARCHIVES)
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 5:45 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - One of two men indicted on capital murder charges in the April 2019 shooting death of a Waco rapper during what authorities are calling a drug deal robbery was sentenced to 30 years in prison Tuesday.

Justice Allen Stanford, 29, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of murder in exchange for a recommendation from the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office that he be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Stanford pleaded guilty to his involvement in the shooting death of Preston Scott, 29, who rapped under the name PJ OneEight. Scott was shot once in the back, and authorities found his body lying in the street at Dallas Street and Carver Avenue.

Before accepting the plea agreement, 54th State District Judge Susan Kelly asked prosecutor Kristi DeCluitt to justify the state’s plea agreement.

DeCluitt explained that authorities believe that Stanford’s cousin and co-defendant, Casey Wade Hughes, was the one who shot Scott in the back and that Stanford expressed remorse for his role in the murder and cooperated with authorities.

Hughes is set for trial April 10. The two were arrested on April 17, 2019, at a gas station in Clinton, Arkansas. According to court records, an officer was filling up his patrol car next to the SUV and thought that Hughes appeared especially nervous.

The officer ran the plates on the SUV, which revealed it to be stolen from Shirley, Arkansas. A further check showed the men were wanted in Scott’s death and the officer arrested them.

Stanford, who has been in the McLennan County Jail 1,414 days, read a seven-page statement into the court record during his plea hearing Tuesday morning in which he claimed he and Hughes intended to rob Scott and another man of $2,000 worth of drugs.

They forced Scott into their vehicle and Stanford said he saw Hughes holding a gun on Scott while the men rode in the back seat. Stanford said he was driving and heard three shots ring out in the vehicle as Scott and Hughes struggled in the back seat.

He said Scott reached for the door handle and tried to jump from the vehicle when Hughes shot him in the back. They left Scott lying in the street and fled to Arkansas, Stanford said in the statement.

In an emotional victim impact statement, Scott’s father struggled for words before saying that he has asked God to forgive Stanford and has asked God to help him find the strength to forgive him.

He said his family misses his son and grieves because they didn’t get to say goodbye to him or to tell him they loved him.

“My heart is still hurting,” he said.

Stanford, who will be given credit for the time he has spent in jail, must serve at least 15 years in prison before he can be considered for parole.