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Shooting 5200 block of Jamieson Avenue

The alley where Darryl T. Simms was found shot to death behind an apartment building in the 5200 block of Jamison Avenue in St. Louis on Saturday, April 4, 2015. Photo By David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS • Prosecutors on Monday abruptly dropped first-degree murder and assault charges against a St. Louis man set for trial this week in exchange for his guilty plea to a lesser crime in a deadly triple shooting.

Anthony Altick, 29, had been charged with first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault and armed criminal action in the killing of Darryl T. Simms and wounding of two other men at a St. Louis Hills apartment in 2015.

On Monday, Altick pleaded guilty to an amended count of second-degree assault for wounding one of the three men. Assistant Circuit Attorney Jerry McDonald dropped all other charges, and Altick was sentenced to two years in jail.

Authorities had said Altick opened fire on four men, some of whom he knew, after they came to his apartment in the 5200 block of Jamieson Avenue to “hang out” about 6:15 a.m. on April 4, 2015, after a night out at Metro East clubs.

But Altick’s lawyer, Scott Rosenblum, said Altick fired in self-defense because he feared for his life as the men broke into his apartment.

Simms’ mother, Loletta Hoskins of East St. Louis, said Monday that she is disappointed that Altick struck a deal with prosecutors in what she believes is murder.

“I know my son didn’t deserve to die,” she said. “It’s like he got killed for nothing. He killed my son, and he’s getting out free. I don’t understand it.”

Authorities say Simms, Joseph Princivalli and Damario Smith came to Altick’s apartment along with a fourth man. Court documents say Smith and Princivalli knew Altick and that Princivalli was Altick’s former roommate.

After knocking and getting no response, Simms broke a glass pane next to the rear common door and opened it, and all four walked into a common hallway. Police say Princivalli announced their presence as they headed up the stairs toward Altick’s apartment.

As Simms and Princivalli began walking up in front of the other two, Altick starting shooting from the top of the stairs, hitting Simms in the chest, back and side. Simms, 27, of East St. Louis, died of his injuries.

Princivalli suffered wounds to his face, arm and side; Smith was shot in the wrist and abdomen. Both survived. The fourth man, who has not been identified, ran off unscathed.

Simms’ mother said he was a graduate of East St. Louis High School and had worked several jobs for years, most recently at a candy shop in Pontoon Beach. He left behind a daughter, now 2, she said.

“My son didn’t know those guys,” Simms’ mother said. “He met up with those guys at the clubs and was getting a ride to work.”

Authorities said Altick appeared intoxicated as police questioned him at the scene, according to court records. Testing revealed a small amount of alcohol but no drugs in his system.

Court filings by the defense noted bad blood between Altick and Princivalli, including Altick’s accusations that Princivalli had stolen a pistol from Altick in January 2015 and that Princivalli punched Altick in the face in late 2014. Princivalli, 25, of Florissant, said he also disagrees outcome of the case and believes Altick was the agressor by bursting out of his apartment and opening fire.

"I guess the law's the law but this is different," he said Tuesday. "We weren't strangers, and I'm not satisfied with his punishment."

Altick has served about a year and 10 months in jail since the shooting. At Monday’s sentencing, St. Louis Circuit Judge Christopher McGraugh gave Altick received credit for jail time served.

Altick was on probation for burglary and stealing in St. Louis County at the time of the shootings and now faces probation revocation hearings in those cases.

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