A jury Wednesday night found Falonzo Davis guilty of second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of his longtime lover’s new boyfriend outside a Raytown education facility.
The Feb. 20, 2014, shooting of Steven Jones prompted the evacuation of about 175 students from the Raytown Schools Education and Conference Center, which houses Success Academy, an alternative educational program.
Shortly before the shooting, Jones pulled into the parking lot with Marla Lee, Davis’ longtime companion. She had left Davis three days before, according to Devon Pasley, Davis’ defense attorney.
Defense lawyers and prosecutors disagreed whether Davis, who was waiting in the parking lot, had acted with the cool reflection and deliberation necessary for a first-degree murder conviction or instead had lost control of his emotions, which could influence a jury to convict him of a lesser charge.
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Michael Hunt, assistant Jackson County prosecuting attorney, contended Davis acted with deliberation.
Standing before a jury in a Jackson County Courthouse Annex courtroom in Independence, Hunt held up the .45-caliber handgun that Davis used in the shooting. After placing the gun on the jury box ledge, he lined up several rounds and a magazine and demonstrated, one round at a time, how long it would have taken Davis to load each of the two seven-round magazines he had brought that morning.
“This was upon deliberation, there’s just no question about that,” Hunt said. “It was an execution.”
Hunt said Davis had retrieved the handgun from an area pawnshop that morning before waiting in the school parking lot about 20 minutes for Jones and Lee to arrive.
Hunt played surveillance video that showed Davis sprinting across the parking lot at 10750 E. Missouri 350.
It then showed Davis halfway inside a stationary car while Davis fired at Jones several times, Hunt said.
The car moved forward slowly before hiting a parked car. Davis walked to confront Lee and his son before turning and taking 14 steps back to the car and allegedly shooting Jones a final time.
“Fourteen steps,” Hunt said. “That’s kind of like the 14 bullets.”
Pasley argued that Davis became emotional after seeing Lee with Jones. Davis had learned that Jones was driving his son to school, Pasley said, when his son sent him a text message.
“The opposite of coolness is passion,” Pasley said.
Although Davis had just retrieved his gun from the pawnshop, he needed it for his job as a security guard, Pasley said. He had not known about Jones when he had initiated the process to get his gun back, which involved a waiting period of several days.
“He was in a heightened emotional state,” Pasley said. “If Mr. Davis had deliberated, he would not have done this in front of his son’s school.“
Davis, 43, dabbed his eyes with tissue while on the witness stand Wednesday. Davis said he took his gun “because I didn’t know who I was dealing with.”
Late Wednesday night, the jury recommended a sentence of life imprisonment on the second-degree murder conviction, as well as 30 years for the armed criminal action conviction.
A judge will issue a sentence at a later date.