Three men now accused in a drive-by shooting that killed a sleeping 3-year-old Kansas City boy last year were gunning for people they believed had slain a brother of one of the men, Jackson County prosecutors said Tuesday.
Last summer, prosecutors charged SirTerry Stevenson, 23, with first-degree murder in the May 31 death of Amorian S.L. Hale.
On Tuesday, two others — Dominque Marchbanks, 24, and Sulif Wilkins, 26 — were also charged with first-degree murder of the little boy.
Authorities alleged that the death of Amorian was the result of an attempt to retaliate for the killing of D’Shawn Marchbanks on a Grandview highway four months earlier.
Amorian died when someone fired numerous bullets from an SKS assault-style rifle into his house in the 6700 block of Walrond Avenue.
“The bullet was meant for someone in the Hale home. One high-powered bullet pierced the top of Mori’s skull,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Tuesday. “The only solace I can offer to a grieving mother is that it would appear that he died instantly and it would appear he did not suffer.”
In addition to first-degree murder, prosecutors charged Stevenson last summer with unlawful use of a weapon and armed criminal action in connection with Amorian’s killing. Stevenson’s trial is scheduled for April 25.
Stevenson told authorities he was driving the car involved in Amorian’s killing, according to court records.
Amorian was asleep in a first-floor bedroom in the rear of the yellow, two-story corner house. Three other children and the boy’s parents also were in the home.
For weeks, the shooting baffled and angered the city. Police looked for connections with past shootings, searched for evidence on social media and used an undercover federal agent to buy what they said was the murder weapon.
According to court records, Wilkins learned shortly before the shooting of Amorian that residents of the house on Walrond might have been responsible for or connected to D’Shawn Marchbanks’ death.
Authorities said Wilkins spent the night of May 30 at the residence, visiting Amorian’s father, Christopher Hale.
The next morning, witnesses said, at one point Wilkins wanted to go to the basement of the Hale residence. During a phone conversation, he was heard talking about a gold-colored vehicle. Witnesses described Wilkins’ behavior as “weird.”
Authorities said Wilkins allegedly talked to SirTerry Stevenson the night before the shooting, that morning, during the shooting and afterward.
Shortly before the shooting, witnesses said, Wilkins left to go to a nearby house.
After he left, several witnesses said, someone sprayed the house with shots fired from a gold Buick LeSabre with tinted windows.
After the shooting, Wilkins refused to return to the home and help the victims, according to court records. He left in a gray vehicle before police arrived.
Authorities said Marchbanks was riding in the Buick LeSabre driven by Stevenson. He allegedly leaned out the car window holding an assault-style rifle and sprayed the house with bullets.
When asked about the shooting, Marchbanks denied he was involved. When told that a 3-year-old had been killed, Marchbanks allegedly told investigators, “I don’t give a (expletive),” according to court records.
Also Tuesday, authorities said Stevenson was riding in a car with D’Shawn Marchbanks when that killing happened.
D’Shawn, 23, had spent time in Missouri prisons for burglary and weapons charges, and he had survived being shot during a failed burglary.
The night D’Shawn was killed, according to investigators, Stevenson posted threatening messages to Facebook under the username “S Dot Hoe” that read: “I’m a (expletive) kill everything watch.”
Wilkins has been in federal custody since June, when he was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. His federal trial is scheduled to begin April 25.
Domnique Marchbanks is in a Missouri prison serving a three-year drug-possession sentence.
“It is my goal that from this courthouse, we will find justice for this senseless, brutal, ridiculous act of violence that has occurred in our city,” Peters Baker said.
Several of Amorian’s relatives, including his parents, grandfather and grandmother, attended the press conference but declined to comment.
Mayor Sly James said the suspects did not have to resort to shooting into a home where children slept.
“There’s this code or concept that has come up that people can mete out their own form of justice on the street, and we can’t have that,” said James, who attended the press conference. “Retaliation is very predominant in their own world with their own rules, and those rules need to be changed.”