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Teen pleads guilty to his role in the murder of 68-year-old man

Crime Watch

AMMON — A local teen has pleaded guilty to his role in the murder of a 68-year-old Ammon man.

Daniel Wood, 19, pleaded guilty to felony second-degree murder Tuesday at a hearing before District Judge Dane H. Watkins Jr. As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to not charge Wood with felony conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the September 2020 killing of Larry H. Powell.

Deputies found the body of Powell inside his Ammon home after a person called 911 saying a man wearing a tan hoodie with dark hair had shot Powell and run away from the house. Afterward, Bonneville County Sheriff’s deputies found Wood, who said he was only a witness to the shooting. Wood claimed his friend Westley Jonathon Hightower, 19, pulled the trigger.

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“I coerced and assisted Hightower,” Wood said at his change-of-plea hearing. “I distracted the guy while Hightower shot him.”

During an interview with investigators, Hightower initially said Wood shot Powell but then changed his story, saying he killed the man. Hightower is the adopted son of Powell’s wife and lived with them in the home.

Wood, who is homeless, told detectives he met Hightower just days before the shooting, and they had conversations about killing Powell, according to detectives.

“Wood disclosed that Hightower offered him ‘some money’ and to live at Powell’s residence if he helped Hightower murder Powell and his wife,” according to court documents.

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Wood told detectives the pair had a plan to dispose of Powell’s body, then sabotage his wife’s car to make it look like an accident. Detectives said this was in an effort “to murder her.”

About two days before the shooting, both Hightower and Wood admitted to previously trying to poison Powell in their attempts to kill him, documents allege.

Hightower pleaded guilty in July to felony first-degree murder for his role in Powell’s killing. Hightower is scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 24.

Sentencing for Wood is scheduled for Feb. 28.

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