Defendant pleads guilty in Avilla double homicide

May 22—Kevin C. Johnson pleaded guilty today to two counts of second-degree murder in the 2021 revenge slayings of Mason McClure and Nicole Hodges.

Johnson, 26, of Reeds, was scheduled to go to trial today in Jasper County Circuit Court on two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of armed criminal action. He instead accepted a plea offer at the last minute that will send him to prison for 28 years.

Johnson gunned down McClure and Hodges, both 34, on Feb. 20 inside a residence at 255 Greenfield St. in Avilla.

He told investigators following his arrest that day that he killed them after McClure allegedly admitted to him that they killed his 25-year-old girlfriend, Brylee O'Banion. Her charred corpse was discovered later the same day in a ditch near State Line Road and Angus Drive in Newton County.

Jasper County deputies found McClure, of Avilla, and Hodges, of Joplin, lying in pools of blood inside McClure's residence with five 9 mm casings left at the scene.

Johnson told investigators that he went to the Avilla address looking for O'Banion and purportedly learned from McClure that they had killed her. He said McClure asked him for help with a task in the garage, and Johnson pulled out a gun he had taken from his father's home and started shooting.

Jeff Lehr is a reporter for The Joplin Globe.