Time and again, witnesses disappeared, refused to testify or ended up dead after Marlyn Standifer was accused of violent crimes, including three homicides.
But this week a man shot during a south Kansas City attempted home invasion robbery last fall came into a Jackson County courtroom and pointed the finger of guilt at Standifer.
And on Thursday a jury found the 26-year-old Standifer guilty of five felony crimes stemming from that incident.
“It was not easy to get the witnesses and victims to come forward to testify against Standifer. In fact, they were terrified,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a written statement. “But in the end they were our community’s courageous eyes. They helped our community achieve justice.”
According to testimony, the man who identified Standifer said he was outside his house in the 7100 block of East 111th Terrace on Sept. 20 when a gunman approached and ordered him to knock on a neighbor’s back door.
The gunman, who prosecutors contended was Standifer, told people inside the house that they had 10 seconds to open the door or there was going to be a murder.
The gunman and two accomplices, at least one of whom was armed, got inside when a man who lived there began shooting at them. During the exchange of gunfire, four bullets hit the man who had been accosted outside.
The attackers and a fourth man fled in their van, but police quickly saw them and began a 25-minute chase that ended with them being caught and arrested.
In closing arguments, Standifer’s attorney, Molly Hastings, said that while Standifer may have been in the van, there was no evidence directly linking him to the crime.
“Guilt by association should not be, is not the same as, guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” she told jurors.
Hastings said that the shooting victim picked Standifer from a photographic lineup in which he was the only one of the six men depicted with a light skin tone. And she said that Standifer was “the only person he could pick” in the courtroom occupied by lawyers and court personnel.
Prosecutors Adam Caine and Page Bellamy, however, lauded the victim’s courage and his “honest and sincere” testimony.
Bellamy argued that the victim didn’t just pick out a random person.
“He picked a person who was in the car,” Bellamy said.
He also said it was no coincidence that a .45-caliber slug found in the lining of a hoodie Standifer was wearing when arrested shared the same physical markings of .45-caliber bullets at the crime scene.
“He was in the war zone,” Bellamy said. “A war zone that he created.”
Jurors were not told of Standifer’s criminal history, which goes back to when he was 16 and charged with murder for the first time. The charge was dismissed when the state’s only witness “disappeared,” according to the former assistant prosecutor who handled the case.
In 2007, Standifer was charged with another murder and two separate assault and robbery cases, but again no witnesses would cooperate and the cases were dismissed.
After he was charged in another killing in 2007, a jury found him guilty. But a co-defendant who had testified against him recanted, and he was granted a new trial. Before the retrial, that co-defendant was found shot to death. A jury later found Standifer not guilty.
In January 2013, Standifer was sentenced to two years in prison for violating parole in a federal illegal gun case. But he was given credit for time served and was released from custody two weeks before the crimes that led to this week’s trial.
The jurors on Thursday found Standifer guilty of attempted first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, kidnapping and two counts of armed criminal action. His sentencing was set for Sept. 10.