DAVENPORT -- A Davenport man is facing a mandatory sentence of life in federal prison after a federal judge issued a guilty verdict Wednesday for distribution of a controlled substance causing death.

U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose delivered her verdict against Jonas Ross III after the conclusion of a bench trial that began May 4.

Ross, 38, already had pleaded guilty to three counts of distribution of heroin, cases that were developed by the Davenport Police Department’s Tactical Operations Bureau. Ross was arrested by Davenport police on those charges in January of 2017 before federal authorities took over the cases. Ross faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison on each of those counts.

According to the electronic records of the U.S. District Court, Davenport, Kenneth James Payer, 44, of Fenton, Mo., who had been a resident of Davenport, was traveling from Ohio to Davenport on Nov. 30, 2016.

Payer placed a cellphone call to Ross at 3:10 p.m. on November 30. The call lasted about 15 minutes. At 6 p.m., Payer checked into the Days Inn hotel at 7222 Northwest Blvd. in Davenport. He was assigned room 230.

At 6:02 p.m. Payer sent Ross a text message asking if Ross could meet him at the Days Inn. Ross asked Payer if he wanted “one or two.” Payer said that “If it’s good make it two.” Ross replied that it was good, and Payer said “Ok, two is good.”

At 6:40 p.m. Ross sent a text message that he was on his way. At 6:45 p.m., records show that a 23-second call was completed between Payer and Ross. The next phone contact between the two was at 8:08 p.m. when Ross called Payer. The call lasted 53 seconds.

At 9:01 p.m. Ross called Payer’s phone but there was no answer.

At 9:40 p.m., Ross called Payer again, and again there was no answer.

On Dec. 2, hotel staff discovered Payer’s body. Also on that day, Ross disconnected his phone number. The hotel manager testified that a black man had come by the hotel earlier and asked about Payer.

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Davenport police at the scene found what they believed to be heroin sitting on the desk next to Payer’s body, and a rolled up $1 bill, which officers believe had been used to snort the drugs.

A package of drugs found in Payer’s room turned out to be 1.57 grams of a mixture of heroin, fentanyl and furanyl fentanyl.

The small amount of loose substance found on the desk in Payer’s room, was determined to be a trace amount of fentanyl.

Davenport Police Detective Bill Thomas went through Payer’s phone and determined that Payer had been in contact with Ross. Thomas had the Tactical Operations Bureau set up another controlled buy with Ross using a confidential source.

On Jan. 12, 2017, Ross sold a mixture of heroin, furanyl fentanyl and acrylfentanyl to the confidential source.

On Jan. 13, 2017, Davenport police arrested Ross and searched his wife’s residence from which officers seized some of the buy-fund money used to purchase heroin from Ross the day before.

During his trial, it was learned that Ross had asked his children’s mother, Darice Stewart, to go check on Payer.

Stewart testified that Ross called her and told her he was concerned about some guy overdosing and wanted her to go up to the Days Inn and check on him. She went to the hotel but did not knock on the door. She testified that Ross continued to call her and asked her to check again. She eventually told Ross she had checked on him again even though she had not gone back to the hotel.

A sentencing hearing for Ross is scheduled for Oct. 29 in U.S. District Court, Davenport.


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