Everyone agreed that Lamario Stayton was armed at the scene of a double killing last summer, but sorting out whether he fired the shots that killed his mother and another person proved to be impossible for a Wyandotte County jury asked to decide his guilt.
By TONY RIZZO
The Kansas City Star
After about four hours of deliberation late Friday afternoon and Monday, jurors announced that they could not reach a unanimous verdict. A mistrial was declared in Stayton’s trial on second-degree murder charges. The jury did find Stayton, 25, guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Laura Michie, 40, and Monty Taylor, 54, died Aug. 11, 2012, after gunfire erupted outside a party at a motorcycle clubhouse in the 1300 block of Roswell Avenue in Kansas City, Kan. Two men were wounded.
Stayton was arrested about a week later and charged with second-degree murder and aggravated battery.
After a week of testimony, jurors began deliberating the case late Friday afternoon. After about 90 minutes of deliberation, they broke for the weekend and resumed Monday morning. The mistrial was declared early Monday afternoon.
The shooting began after Stayton was refused entry into the party, witnesses testified. Several people identified Stayton, but only one witness testified to actually seeing him fire a gun. Another witness said she saw Stayton with his hand extended as if he were holding a gun.
DNA tests linked evidence at the scene to Stayton, prosecutors said.
In closing arguments Friday, Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum told jurors to use their common sense in assessing the physical evidence and witness testimony that Stayton instigated a disturbance immediately before shots were fired.
But defense attorney Paul Dent emphasized in his closing argument that the scene was chaotic and many weapons were fired as dozens of people ran or hid.
Dent said that even if prosecutors proved Stayton was at the scene and had a gun, that didn’t make him guilty.
“That’s not the way it works, folks,” Dent said.
Stayton remains in custody. A hearing was set for Sept. 6 to discuss scheduling a retrial.
Stayton is also being held on charges stemming from a February escape attempt in which he allegedly assaulted a Wyandotte County sheriff’s deputy.