Crime

In court, relatives support teen accused of killing father in Shawnee

KansasCity

Robert Gay told a Johnson County judge Tuesday that the person who killed his son is “the most wonderful human being on the face of the earth.”

The alleged killer is Gay’s 15-year-old grandson, Dalton Gay, who last summer emptied a magazine of 16 bullets at his father.

Dalton Gay is charged as a juvenile with the first-degree murder of his father, Darren Gay.

Robert Gay was among witnesses who testified Tuesday during the second day of a hearing to determine whether Dalton Gay will stand trial as an adult for his father’s death.

Dalton testified Monday that his father physically and sexually abused him.

Robert Gay and other family members testified that they had no idea of the extent of the abuse, which Dalton never revealed to them. They did know that Darren Gay was verbally and emotionally abusive to Dalton.

“He made him into a puppet,” Robert Gay said. “It drove me nuts how he treated Dalton.”

Dalton’s mother, Karen Lindsay, said she suspected the abuse but her son never would admit it when she asked.

Dalton’s stepfather, Tom Lindsay Jr., testified that from the first time he met him, Darren Gay acted aggressive and hostile toward him.

“I just felt evil from him,” Lindsay said. “He was the angriest person I ever met.”

On July 2, Dalton was preparing for a visit with his father, who arrived at the Lindsays’ auction business in Shawnee to pick him up. Dalton hugged his mother goodbye and walked outside.

Minutes later she heard a series of explosions and thought Darren Gay was throwing fireworks at his son. But when she went outside, she saw her son walking back with a gun in his hand.

“I shot him,” she said Dalton told her. “I couldn’t take it anymore.”

Also on Tuesday, the juvenile court services officer assigned to Dalton’s case recommended that he remain in juvenile court and not be tried as an adult. Laura Brewer said she would make the same recommendation even if Dalton’s allegations of sexual abuse were not true.

Brewer said that she did not believe Dalton posed a risk to the community. She called his action “a juvenile act of desperation.”

Martin Zehr, a clinical psychologist who evaluated Dalton, said he found no evidence that Dalton was lying about being sexually and physically abused. Zehr said that Dalton’s reluctance to tell anyone about the abuse was fed by the belief that adults could not or would not help him.

Dalton was “literally and figuratively in a prison of abuse” from which he felt there was no escape, Zehr said.

He diagnosed Dalton as suffering post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of “years of unrelenting suffering” because of almost a lifetime of physical, sexual and emotional abuse and the threat of continuing abuse.

The chance of Dalton committing such a crime in the future was “zero,” he said.

Zehr was the final witness called by Dalton’s lawyer, N. Trey Pettlon.

As the state began presenting evidence, Assistant District Attorney Don Hymer said that Dalton committed an adult act that deserved punishment in the adult system.

After the shooting, Shawnee police detective John Sterling questioned Dalton. Prosecutors played for the court video from that interview.

Dalton told him he began thinking about killing his father four days before the shooting. He said he was afraid that his father would be angry because he found out Dalton had started a Facebook page. He told the detective that his father routinely yelled at him and sometimes hit him.

But when asked if there was anything else that led to the shooting, Dalton said there was nothing.

The day of the shooting, he found the key to his stepfather’s gun safe and took the handgun.

When he got to his father’s car that day, he put his bag in the trunk, took out the gun, “jogged” to the front of the car and began shooting.

When asked if he had any regrets, Dalton said, “No.”

Sterling persisted asking Dalton if there was anything else, and Dalton began to open up, saying his father had threatened to kill him on occasion.

He talked about his father belittling him about his grades and sports activities. When his father coached him, Dalton said he would humiliate him and tell him he sucked.

“I just hated it. I was tired of it,” Dalton said.

Finally, after more prompting, Dalton talked about being forced to sleep in the same bed and shower with his father when he was younger.

He described his father touching his genitals and buttocks at times. He said the last time something like that happened he was about 11. But he was afraid his father was starting to show indications of doing things like that again, he said.

Sterling asked Dalton why he never told anybody about the abuse.

“I was scared he was going to do something to me, like kill me,” he said.

Prosecutors were unable to finish all their testimony Tuesday. District Judge Thomas Foster tentatively set the case to resume June 19.

If retained in the juvenile system, Dalton would serve a minimum of five years in custody and receive counseling and educational services. He could be kept under court supervision until he turned 23.

As an adult he would face life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to trizzo@kcstar.com.

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