Archive for Friday, June 29, 2007

Suspect arrested in clerk killing

June 29, 2007

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— A man accused of killing a convenience store clerk was captured Thursday afternoon when his fleeing car crashed and injured a woman as she pumped gas at another filling station.

Minutes earlier, prosecutors had charged Kenneth D. Smith with one count of first-degree murder in the killing of Tony E. Barnett Jr., 27, of Liberty, during the holdup Wednesday of a Shell station in Randolph.

Smith, 34, also faces one count of first-degree robbery and two counts of armed criminal action.

Clay County Undersheriff Roger Yates said Smith was unconscious after the crash at the QuikTrip parking lot in Kansas City. He said Smith and the woman who was injured as she pumped gas were taken to North Kansas City Hospital, but he did not know their conditions.

"I hope nobody was hurt too seriously," Yates said. "This guy was a bad actor, and this just proves it."

Tips began pouring in Wednesday night and Thursday morning after police released a digital image from the Shell station's video surveillance. The investigation led police to a woman who said she and a man unwittingly took Smith to a motel near the gas station. Smith told them he needed to collect some money, Yates said.

After about 15 or 20 minutes, the woman and the man grew tired of waiting and drove around the parking lot looking for Smith. Eventually, the woman said she saw Smith walk through a wooded area that separated the motel and gas station.

"As he got into the car, he stated 'Go. Let's get out of here.' The woman noticed he had a bundle of money on his lap," Yates said.

The trio drove to Kansas City, where Smith left the car and returned with crack cocaine. The woman then asked the men to take her home.

Smith's current address wasn't known. He had lived in Independence in the past, and Yates said Smith had convictions for crimes including stealing and burglary.

Authorities have dismissed a possible connection between the killing of Barnett and the death of a clerk Tuesday at a Motomart along Interstate 44 in Pacific, southwest of St. Louis.

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