Man gets life sentence in killing of college student at KC apartment

A man on Wednesday received a life sentence in the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old college student nearly two years ago.

Marcus D. Smith, 31, of Kansas City, North, was also sentenced to prison terms of 15 years for unlawful use of a weapon and 50 years for each of two counts of armed criminal action. Judge Larry D. Harman ordered the prison sentences to run consecutively.

Smith was found guilty in February by a Clay County jury of the Aug. 16, 2011, slaying of Samir Clark.

Police had described Clark as an innocent bystander in a shooting at an apartment in the 6400 block of Northeast 43rd Street.

When charged in Clark’s killing, Smith was on parole for an involuntary manslaughter conviction in Wyandotte County.

Prosecutors, who had asked for sentences of 500 years on Smith’s conviction of second-degree murder, said at his trial that he fell into an altercation with several people the night of the shooting.

Before the sentencing, Clark’s mother, Sonya Cherry, told the judge that her son was on the road to success and that his death has left an “indescribable pain” that she endures every day. Clark mentored his younger relatives, was active in his church and helped his grandmother feed the hungry on Thanksgiving and distribute food baskets to needy families, she said.

“He had learned to give back to his community,” she said. “I will never get to see the man he would have become. We will never know the full potential of his life.”

Smith maintained his innocence.

According to court records, Clark was visiting a relative and playing a video game with his cousin that evening when a neighbor knocked on the door, pleading for help. They let in the neighbor and her children.

Clark and the relative hurried the children to the back of the apartment and told them to crawl into a bathtub. Smith then fired several shots into the apartment through an open door. A bullet struck Clark in the neck, killing him.

Clark was to leave for Tennessee State University in Nashville later that week, relatives said at the time.

He was a 2010 graduate of University Academy and an Eagle Scout and was planning to study physical therapy.