A Kansas City man has been convicted in the late 2014 killing of an Independence man.
A witness said the man shot the victim, who had his hands up and was in the back seat of a truck, then he tried to burn the body. The string of crimes ended with the killer in a standoff with Kansas City police and his eventual surrender.
A Jackson County jury on Thursday convicted James Rhymer, 33, in the death of David Mendez. Rhymer was convicted of second-degree murder, first-degree assault, kidnapping and three counts of armed criminal action. He is to be sentenced July 7.
According to Kansas City police, the crimes started around midnight on Thanksgiving 2014. A man said Rhymer abducted him at gunpoint from the Days Inn on Parvin Road near Worlds of Fun and demanded money from a debt. The man said Rhymer held a gun to his head while the man held his 2-year-old child.
Rhymer took the man and drove to a home in the 500 block of South Glenwood in Independence, where he pointed his silver handgun at the man and another person and demanded the money he was owed. Someone gave him some money.
Then Rhymer told the man they were going to another Independence home, two blocks away, in the 500 block of South Brookside. They were going there to confront someone about missing car keys.
Independence police were called to the home on Brookside shortly before 3 a.m. A woman there said her uncle – Mendez – had let “James” into the house, and she said another man was with him.
The woman said “James” screamed at her “Where’s my (stuff)” and “where are my … keys?” He struck her with the handgun, and when he did so, she heard what sounded like a gunshot. Others in the house heard a gunshot too, and they came downstairs to find out what was going on.
The owner of the house told Rhymer to leave, and he did, in a black Chevrolet truck or SUV.
Hours later, a little after 8 that Friday morning, a witness went to Independence police and said he was with Rhymer when Rhymer shot Mendez. He said they were a stop sign at 12th and Ewing in Kansas City, on the east edge of Kansas City roughly a mile from the house on Brookside. The witness said Mendez was in the back seat, that Rhymer pointed his gun at Mendez, that Mendez resisted and that Rhymer fired when Mendez had his hands up.
Rhymer drove to a gas station and poured gasoline on the body and in the back of the truck. At gunpoint, Rhymer made the man take off his clothing and take a shower. Rhymer got someone else to help get rid of the body southwest of Harrisonville in Cass County. One witness led police to where the body was and to another site where the burned truck was.
Early in the evening that same Friday, Kansas City police found Rhymer in his apartment near 34th and Pennsylvania. He barricaded himself inside for several hours. He surrendered to police about 1:45 a.m. and was arrested.
According to state court records, Rhymer also has a 2014 charge of driving with a suspended/revoked license in Lafayette County. He also pleaded guilty in 2012 to DWI, driving with a revoked license and resisting arrest, pleaded guilty in 2006 to stealing and tampering with a motor vehicle. He was sentenced to 42 months in prison in that case.