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Fifth person charged in Independence triple murder

A fifth person was charged Monday in the Nov. 16 home invasion in Independence in which three people were killed.

Carlos Zambrano Jr., 27, of Kansas City, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and six other felony counts. He is being held without bond in the Jackson County jail.

Court records allege that Zambrano was the driver of one of the vehicles that took the killers to the house in the 1500 block of South Pope Avenue early that morning. Police think they were after drugs and money.

Zambrano, who is known as “Los,” was identified through his birth certificate. He had left it in a vehicle connected to 33-year-old Kevin M. Finley, one of the four other defendants. Investigators recovered it Saturday from the glove box of the vehicle, which had been taken to a tow lot.

Another defendant, 37-year-old Bobbie Jo Phillips, later picked Zambrano out of a photo lineup, police said.

All three victims were shot. They were Maria Hernandez, 48; her son, Antonio Hernandez, 20; and Tomas Dominguez, age unknown. Hernandez’s hands were duct-taped behind him, and he was shot in the back of the head.

Another son of Maria Hernandez was shot in the face and chest when he jumped in front of his mother as she was being shot. The boy, 12, is recovering in a hospital. Other children in the home at the time were unharmed.

Missouri court records say Zambrano was released from prison on Nov. 7 — just nine days before the murders — after pleading guilty in April 2011 to tampering with and stealing a motor vehicle. He was sentenced to five years but was credited for time served.

The defendants previously charged in the case appeared Monday in court, where a judge ordered them to continue to be held without bond.

Jackson County Associate Circuit Judge Jeffrey Bushur also scheduled a preliminary hearing for all four at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 12 in his courtroom in the Jackson County Courthouse Annex. The remaining defendants are Raul Soto, 22, and Antonio Cervantes III, 32. All four have been charged with three counts of first-degree murder.