Jury finds Independence man guilty of murder in 2014 wreck

Drew Ryland, 25, has been found guilty of second degree murder.
Drew Ryland, 25, has been found guilty of second degree murder. File photo

An Independence man was found guilty Friday night of murder and nine other felony counts in connection with a fatal accident in 2014 near Grand Avenue and 31st Street.

Drew M. Ryland, 26, was found guilty of second-degree murder by a Jackson County jury, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Saturday.

The murder charge resulted because the victim, Michael Hernandez, died after Ryland resisted a lawful stop.

The accident occurred about 1 a.m. Sept. 20, 2014, after police tried to pull over a white SUV speeding north on Southwest Trafficway, running red lights at 39th Street and again at Valentine, according to court records.

The police stopped their pursuit after the SUV continued to run red lights and crossed over into oncoming lanes of traffic to pass other vehicles. Officers said they last saw the vehicle at 31st and Main streets.

About three minutes after police called off the pursuit, a white SUV driven by Ryland crashed head-on into a Dodge Charger at 31st Street and Grand Avenue, two blocks away.

Hernandez and another man, both in the Dodge Charger, were injured in the wreck. Hernandez never regained consciousness. He died Oct. 8, 2014.

At the scene of the accident, Ryland and two passengers were found lying on the ground near the SUV, which had caught fire. Ryland’s blood alcohol level was found to be 0.145 when he was tested a hospital, after police obtained a search warrant. The legal blood alcohol limit in Missouri is 0.08.

The two passengers in the SUV said they had just left Westport before the accident.

A sentencing hearing has been set for May 26.