A Cass County jury returned a not guilty verdict Friday for a Peculiar man charged in the 2014 shooting death of Forrest Fuller, 25, at a local cemetery.
Tyler Smallwood was 18 when he was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the case, which was investigated by the Kansas City Metro Squad and included 30 investigators from 14 agencies.
Smallwood was acquitted after eight days of trial. Another man charged in the case, Mathew Volland, of Raymore, pleaded guilty as an accessory to murder and was sentenced last month to 30 years in prison.
When Smallwood’s case went to trial, the Cass County prosecutor’s office was led by Ben Butler, who was elected in 2014. The murder charges had been filed by former Cass County prosecutor Teresa Hensley, who left the prosecutor’s office before the case went to trial.
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Fuller, of Cass County, was found shot to death at a rural Peculiar cemetery on June 4, 2014. Volland, under questioning by authorities, allegedly admitted involvement in the killing and named Smallwood as the person who shot Fuller.
But Smallwood’s defense attorney, Daniel Ross, argued that Smallwood had an alibi and was not at the scene of the crime.
Ross said police investigators testified that they lost the recording of a 911 call made when a witness reported gunshots at the cemetery and lost video recordings of an alibi witness for Smallwood.
Part of the state’s case depended on a witness, a then-16-year-old female acquaintance of Volland, who claimed Smallwood had confessed to her that he carried out the shooting.