A gang member who had dodged three murder charges since he was 16 saw his luck run out Friday when a judge sentenced him to 25 years for a 2013 home invasion.
A Jackson County jury in August convicted Marlyn L. Standifer, 26, of five felonies related to the south Kansas City attack.
A second man involved in the home invasion, Joshua Fields, 30, also was sentenced Friday to 25 years in prison.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker praised both of her prosecutors on the case — Adam Caine and Page Bellamy — and the lead witness, a man who was wounded four times and still agreed to testify.
Previous witnesses in murder cases against Standifer had refused to testify, went missing or turned up dead.
“He is a hero, an absolute hero,” Baker said of the witness after the hearing. “Those prosecutors fought for every one of those 25 years, but they could not have gotten there without him.”
That witness testified that he was doing yard work outside his home in the 7100 block of East 111th Terrace when a gunman approached and ordered him to knock on a neighbor’s back door.
When a 10-year-old girl opened the door, one robber told residents in the home that they had 10 seconds to comply “before this turns into a murder scene,” court records said.
A gunfight ensued between the neighbor and the robbers, but the shots struck only the witness and not the four girls who lived in the home.
“This was so much more than a burglary and an attempted robbery,” Judge Robert Schieber said before announcing the sentence. “It was the shootout at the O.K. Corral with four little girls in the middle.”
A decade ago, prosecutors dismissed Standifer’s first murder case when the state’s only eyewitness disappeared. In 2007, a second murder case was dismissed when no witnesses would cooperate. A jury found him guilty of another murder in 2007, but Standifer won a new trial when a co-defendant recanted testimony against him.
Someone killed that witness before the retrial, and a jury found Standifer not guilty.
Two other defendants in the case await sentencing.