Trial set for July for Palmyra man facing first-degree murder charges in Sept. 2021 death


Raymond Gum | Photo courtesy of Menard County Sheriff's Department

SHELBYVILLE, Mo. — A trial for a Palmyra man facing charges of first-degree murder, armed criminal action and unlawful possession of a firearm has been set for July.

Raymond D. Gum, 35, appeared in Shelby County Circuit Court with public defender Austin Smith on Thursday morning during a brief hearing before Judge Frederick Tucker. A pretrial date was set for June 22, with a three-day trial scheduled to begin July 19.

Gum’s charges are in connection with the death of Crystal Cooper, 34, outside her home in the 100 block of E. Jefferson in Palmyra. Gum and Cooper reportedly were in a relationship at the time. Cooper was found dead Sept. 3, 2021.

Gum was arrested Sept. 4, 2021 in the 300 block of E. Liberty in Petersburg, Ill., about 25 miles northwest of Springfield. He faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder. Luke Bryant, prosecuting attorney for Marion County, has told the court he will not seek the death penalty.

Gum pled not guilty on Jan. 5 during his arraignment in Marion County Circuit Court before Judge Rachel Shepherd Bringer. He also asked for a change of judge and change of venue, and the Missouri Supreme Court granted his request by moving the case to Shelby County.

Bryant said Thursday morning plea negotiations continue.

“There are some issues he wants to discuss with his attorney,” he said. “So we just went ahead and set (the dates for the trial) to get it off the books, so to speak. He could come back and say, ‘Yeah, I’ll go ahead and accept the plea,’ and if he does, then we’ll set it for a special setting and plea him out then.”

Gum is being held in the Marion County Jail on a $1 million cash-only bond.

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