A man was convicted Wednesday in a road rage fatal shooting of an Independence mother in 2016.
Christopher P. Taylor, 40, was found guilty of first-degree involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action, the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office said.
His sentencing is scheduled for late August. The armed criminal action conviction carries no maximum prison sentence. He faces up to 10 years for manslaughter.
Prosecutors originally charged Taylor with second-degree murder.
Whitney Gray was 22 and a mother of two young sons when she was killed.
According to court documents:
Gray had stopped for groceries at 23rd and Sterling streets and then driven north out of a parking lot.
An SUV followed her minivan at a high rate of speed.
At one point, the SUV that police eventually traced to Taylor passed the minivan so closely that it nearly caused a wreck.
Witnesses said both vehicles continued north to a traffic signal at Winner Road, where Gray pulled into the left turn lane. The SUV remained in the lane on her right.
Witnesses said they saw a drink or liquid thrown from the passenger window of the minivan onto the SUV. Just as the liquid was thrown, the SUV moved forward into the intersection and witnesses said they heard a gunshot.
Both vehicles then traveled north on Sterling. Gray’s minivan eventually stopped in the 1600 block of Sterling Avenue as the SUV continued north.
Police arrived and found Gray, who had been shot in the chest, below the neck around her collarbone area. The passengers — a 16-year-old girl, a 3-year-old boy, and an 8-month-old girl — were not injured. Gray died at the scene.
The day following the shooting, detectives spoke to Taylor's father, James R. Taylor, who described his son as a loner who was paranoid of the government and made every effort to “stay off the grid.”
James Taylor said camping gear, an assault-style rifle, a handgun and ammunition were missing from his son's residence.
Investigators later went to the car dealership where Taylor purchased the SUV and tracked him to a hotel in South Dakota.