KANSAS CITY, KAN. An accomplice in a shooting spree that left five people dead - one of them a pregnant woman - has been convicted of three counts of capital murder, prosecutors announced Tuesday.
Prosecutors said Errik Harris, 29, helped Darrell Lamont Stallings, 35, in the June 2002 rampage in Kansas City, Kan., that began as retaliation for a crime committed against Stallings' mother. Stallings avoided the death penalty in January and was sentenced to five consecutive life terms in prison.
District Judge Thomas L. Boeding found Harris guilty Friday after an agreement was reached with prosecutors. Harris also was found guilty of attempted first-degree murder and criminal possession of a firearm.
Because Harris didn't plead guilty but agreed to what is called "stipulated facts," he retains the right to appeal.
The defense agreed to the arrangement because Dist. Atty. Jerome Gorman said he wouldn't pursue the death penalty.
"If you looked at Stallings and Harris side by side, Stallings certainly looked to be the more evil of the two - let's face it, he had been previously convicted of murder before," Gorman said Tuesday. "If Stallings didn't get it, it would be difficult for 12 different jurors to return with a death penalty verdict for Harris given what they knew" about Stallings' sentence.
Gorman said he would seek consecutive "hard 50" life terms for Harris, which means he would have to serve 150 years in prison before the chance of parole.
"We are happy with it," Gorman said. "We believe that he will have a sufficiently long enough sentence so that he will never step out of prison again."
Stallings' killing spree began as retaliation for the attempted robbery and beating of his mother in April 2002. Two people were caught and convicted for those crimes, but Stallings thought Anthony and Trina Jennings played a role, too.
Trina Jennings, 26, who was seven months pregnant, was killed; her 29-year-old brother, Anthony, was wounded.
Prosecutors have said none of the victims was involved in the attack on Stallings' mother. Also killed were Samantha Sigler, 24; Destiny Wiles, 23; Tameika Jackson, 24; and Melvin Montague, 34, all of whom prosecutors said died because they were witnesses to Jennings' killing.
The capital murder charges against Harris stem from the deaths of Montague, Sigler and Wiles.