Two Lawrence residents were found guilty Tuesday of trying to kill a drug informant in a failed mob-style hit. A third defendant was acquitted in the case.
Jurors in U.S. District Court in Kansas City convicted Andre L. Ivory, 28, and his girlfriend, Pamela R. Tyler, 49, of conspiracy to kill a witness, attempting to kill a witness and discharging a firearm in a violent crime. Kansas City-area resident Mark M. "Smooth" McGee, 33, was found not guilty of those charges.
The three were charged with plotting the 2004 attempt to kill Tania Atkins, a former crack-cocaine dealer who had worked undercover to help police build a drug-dealing case against Ivory.
"I think they thought, 'Without a witness, there's no case,'" Atkins told the Journal-World last year.
Atkins, age 28 at the time of the shooting, was driving home from her job as a janitor on April 29, 2004, when a stolen Oldsmobile struck her van at the corner of Seventh and Locust streets in North Lawrence.
The driver of the Oldsmobile, later identified as Kyle A. Crayton, of Kansas City, Kan., got out and started shooting. A 9 mm slug struck Atkins in the legs, but when Crayton's gun jammed, she was able to get away and flag down police.
Prosecutors alleged that, starting in late March 2004, Ivory and Tyler planned the shooting via telephone as Ivory was held in federal custody at Leavenworth. A jailhouse recording system caught the couple using coded phrases such as "the money" or "the show" to describe the act of killing Atkins.
Ivory and Tyler spoke regularly by phone with McGee in early April about finding ways to get rid of Ivory's drug case, investigators said. At one point, McGee said Ivory should consider him a "fairy godmother" but that he couldn't do everything himself and would need help, according to the affidavit.
Crayton, 25, and two other accomplices, Lawrence residents Kimberly Sanders, 27, and Chaconie "CC" Edwards, 27, reached plea agreements earlier this year to reduced charges.
Prosecutors said Edwards was Crayton's getaway driver and that Sanders helped gather information on Atkins and tried to set up opportunities for the shooting.
Ivory and Tyler both are former residents of Pinnacle Woods, 5000 Clinton Parkway. Ivory pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court last week to the original drug charges: six counts of either distributing or possessing with intent to distribute crack cocaine.
He and Tyler both were found not guilty on Tuesday of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine.
Ivory and Tyler each face up to 20 years in prison for conspiracy to kill a witness and attempting to kill a witness. They face at least 10 years for discharging a firearm.
Sentencing has not been scheduled.