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Army soldier hires friend to shoot toddler stepson dead in grisly murder-for-hire plot

A Fort Campbell, Kentucky, soldier hired to carry out a murder plot that left a 2-year-old boy dead learned Monday that he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

The Leaf Chronicle reported that Zackery Alexander, 23, pleaded guilty to first-degree premeditated murder and first-degree felony murder for the October 4, 2015, shooting death of Joseph Bankston, 2. Fellow Fort Campbell soldier David Wi had hired Alexander to kill his toddler stepson in addition to his estranged wife, Alicia Bankston, and their 1-year-old daughter, Lilly.

The trio was sleeping at Alicia’s mother’s Tennessee home along with her new boyfriend, Brandon Jimenez, that fateful night when Alexander knocked on the door and asked for jumper cables. Alexander shot Jimenez several times but he survived the attack, according to the newspaper.

From there, Alexander went to the grandmother’s room and fatally shot the toddler in the back of the head. Alicia hid with her infant daughter in a bedroom while the grandmother hid in the bathroom. All three weren’t harmed.

At the time of the slaying, WKRN reported that Wi was in a custody battle with his estranged wife and was the beneficiary on life insurance policies for her, his stepson, and their infant daughter. Wi ultimately pleaded guilty in October 2016 and was sentenced to life plus 50 years.

Sentenced to life in prison without parole plus 66 years, Alexander also pleaded guilty to conspiring to kill Lilly, Alicia, and the grandmother. He was also charged with aggravated burglary for his near-fatal shooting of Jimenez.

The Chronicle noted that the 23-year-old faced the death penalty prior to Monday’s plea agreement.

[Featured Image: Joseph Bankston/WKRN]