Man shot and killed after traffic altercation remembered as peacemaker
Leonard “Junior” Joyner III had a peace offering of cash in his hand when an angered 19-year-old instead turned their minor car crash into a case of road rage murder, according to state charges filed Tuesday.
Nine shell casings littered the pavement at 51st Street and Swope Parkway in Kansas City, and Joyner, 57, lay dead as an 18-year-old woman drove the teenaged shooter away in their white sport-utility vehicle, court documents said.
Prosecutors have charged Trevyon D. Shepheard of Kansas City with second-degree murder, armed criminal action and tampering with evidence.
Rafeasia Kirkland of Kansas City is charged with tampering with evidence.
Several witnesses watched the horror unfold as Joyner was driving his cream-colored Lincoln Town Car east on 51st Street up a hill to a stop sign at Swope Parkway about 3:45 p.m. Sunday.
Their accounts, reported in charging documents, told how Joyner’s car apparently rolled back into a white Chevrolet Trailblazer that police say was driven by Kirkland.
Both Kirkland and Shepheard got out of their SUV and met face to face with Joyner, who stepped out of his car.
The witnesses saw Joyner pull out cash in his hand and appear to offer it to Shepheard and Kirkland. But Shepheard, police said, went to the passenger side of the SUV and came back with a black semi-automatic handgun.
Witnesses did not see anything but cash in Joyner’s hand at that point when they saw the man identified as Shepheard step back and fire several shots, hitting Joyner.
The woman ran back to the SUV, and the shooter, before returning to the passenger side of the SUV, fired several more shots at Joyner on the ground, witnesses said.
The suspects drove away west on 51st Street, their flight captured on surveillance video from the nearby apartments.
Friends of Joyner’s who lived in the same apartment complex were expecting Joyner, who had just gotten off work from his job with a moving company, to join them for dinner. Instead they heard of the shooting and ran out to see their friend dead in the street.
The swift arrest and charges against the couple came as a relief to the friends, who had been planning to celebrate Joyner’s birthday this Friday but are planning for his funeral instead.
“I’m so glad they got somebody,” said Janice Shelton, who had been cooking the dinner Sunday for Joyner. “But I’m still hurt. I’m still taking his clothes to the funeral home tomorrow.”
Gary Owens, like Shelton, had known Joyner since they were elementary school students living on Agnes Avenue in Kansas City.
“It (the arrest) takes a load off me and my high blood pressure,” Owens said. “I thank God.”
Joyner had been making plans to return to Atlanta where his two youngest children are students at Georgia State University. He was going to head back soon after his birthday celebration, his friends and his children’s mother, Judi Martin, said.
The children, 20-year-old Essence Joyner and 23-year-old Justyce Joiner, were waiting with their chess boards to carry on a long-standing battle of wits with their dad when they learned he’d been killed, Martin said.
Instead of reprising chess games, she said, “We’re caught up in a (murder) statistic that is so insane. It’s just crazy the times we’re in.”
Now they are looking for help getting to his Friday funeral in Kansas City. They have set up a GoFundMe page to help with the costs of getting to his funeral.
Joyner was the 68th homicide in Kansas City in 2018. Kansas City is on pace for nearly 120 homicides for the year after the city had 150 homicides in 2017, the highest total in more than 20 years.
When Martin learned the man charged with the killing was still a teenager, she said, “Oh my gosh, a baby.”
Police used surveillance footage at the apartment complex to identify the white SUV as it sped away. Police also received a tip that Kirkland and Shepheard were involved in the shooting.
Kirkland’s mother also called police after the shooting, court documents said, and told police that her daughter had called her and said she was being held captive by her boyfriend.
They were taken into custody at an east Kansas City apartment complex.
According to police, Shepheard told police he was involved in a car crash and that the victim, Joyner, was offering to pay cash.
He said Joyner reached under the Town Car’s driver’s seat and pulled out a firearm, and Shepheard said he then shot Joyner. He took Joyner’s gun but soon realized Joyner’s gun was a fake gun or BB gun and threw it out the window while they were driving away, he told police, according to court documents.
Kirkland had recorded the encounter with Joyner on her cellphone, court documents show, but Shepheard said they deleted the recording.