A Kansas City rapper and record company president was found guilty Thursday in the fatal shooting in September 2015 of another rapper outside an Overland Park bar.
A Johnson County District Court jury deliberated for less than two hours Thursday morning before finding Dale “Poppa Willo” Willis guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of Jurl Carter, who was a 24-year-old aspiring rapper from Olathe.
Willis, 33, president of Duced Out Records in Kansas City, also was found guilty of misdemeanor battery for punching Carter before Carter was shot.
The confrontation that led to Carter’s killing occurred outside Jim Kilroy’s Roxy Bar at 75th Street and Metcalf Avenue where Willis performed that night.
Carter, who went by the names of Yunglyfe Carter or Bo Boogy, had also gone to the bar that night hoping to perform, but he did not.
Willis and several others were standing outside the bar when Carter pulled his car into a parking spot near them, according to trial testimony.
After the two men exchanged angry words, Willis punched Carter in the face, knocking him to the ground.
Carter got up, went to his car and started to drive away, when another man, who prosecutors identified as James Willis, the younger brother of Dale Willis, fired multiple shots into the car.
The Willis brothers brothers then reportedly fled the scene together in a red pickup truck. Investigators later determined that Dale Willis had been driving a red truck to belonged to his cousin.
A murder charge is still pending against James Willis, who will be tried separately in the killing of Carter. James Willis is next scheduled to appear in court Sept. 29. His trial date has not been set.
Prosecutors Vanessa Riebli and Alex Scott told the jury that Dale Willis instructed his brother to shoot Carter.
On surveillance video that captured the shooting from a distance, the prosecutors said Dale Willis could be seen pointing at Carter’s car before the gunman fired the shots from the side of the car.
A total of 11 shots were fired. Four struck Carter in the chest, according to testimony.
The first Overland Park police officers on the scene began emergency first aid, as friends of Carter pleaded with him to hang on and keep breathing, but he could not be saved.
Dan Ross and Craig Divine, attorneys for Dale Willis, said there was no evidence to support the claim that their client ordered the shooting.
The defense also said Carter made statements after he was punched that he would take care of things, and some witnesses believed he had a gun.
The jury reached its verdict after hearing more than a week of testimony.
As part of their case, prosecutors presented video surveillance footage taken outside several houses associated with the Willis brothers.
Jurors were not told that the footage was part of an ongoing federal investigation into a drug-trafficking ring that has resulted in charges against several people, including the Willis cousin who owned the red truck.
One of those cameras was mounted on a utility pole across from a house owned by the Willis family and showed Dale Willis driving a red pickup truck.
After Thursday’s verdict was read, friends and family of Carter cried and hugged one another. Willis could be seen wiping tears from his eyes but otherwise did not react.
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said after the verdict that he was limited in what he could say because of the case pending against James Willis.
“We are very pleased with the jury’s verdict,” Howe said.
Divine, the defense attorney, said he anticipated an appeal of the conviction would be filed.
He said the jury was very attentive throughout the trial and the judge conducted a fair trial.
But Divine said that the defense had not been allowed to argue that James Willis was acting in self defense because he believed Carter had a gun.
Sentencing for Dale Willis was tentatively scheduled for Oct. 26.
Under Kansas law, he faces a sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for 50 years.