A Raytown man received a 22-year sentence after pleading guilty Friday morning to murder for shooting a man to death outside a Blue Springs restaurant in November 2017.
John Jefferies, 26, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and robbery in the shooting death of Clinton Peckman of Paola, Kansas. Jackson County Circuit Judge Marco Roldan sentenced Jefferies in the same proceeding.
Jefferies had been charged with second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and two counts of armed criminal action. Jefferies shot Peckman inside a work van parked at the Bethlehem Cafe near Woods Chapel Road and South Outer Road near Interstate 70, then tried to carjack a vehicle.
According to court documents, surveillance video from the Waffle House next to Bethlehem Cafe showed Peckman’s van pull into a spot in the Bethlehem Cafe parking lot shortly after 11 a.m. Nov. 9, 2017.
The passenger door opened and a man matching Jefferies’ description got out and ran behind the Waffle House. The driver side door opened and witnesses ran toward that side, where Peckman collapsed. One witness from Waffle House said she saw two men wrestling in the van.
A police officer found Peckman lying on his back, showing no signs of life. He had a single gunshot wound to the chest, and the bullet had gone out his back.
Officers noticed Jefferies running from the KFC/Taco Bell parking lot across the street from Waffle House toward the Firehouse Bar, where he was arrested.
According to court documents, Jefferies had tried to steal a vehicle from a man and his wife outside the KFC/Taco Bell. The man said Jefferies came up from behind as his wife got into the passenger seat and demanded the keys. The man gave Jeffries the key fob, and Jeffries pointed gun at the man’s wife and said, “I need your car.” The man then grabbed Jeffries’ arm and directed it toward the ceiling. The gun went off into the ceiling.
The couple went back inside the restaurant and watched as Jefferies put the car in reverse and nearly strike the curb and building before the car became inoperable. Jefferies took off running. Police found an empty handgun, which the woman said belonged to Jefferies, on a sidewalk near the car.
Police later learned Peckman had driven from his Kansas home to work at the Autumn Place Apartments in Blue Springs, a couple blocks from the shooting. Peckman had been there with another employee when he asked for the keys to the work van and drove to a gas station and/or home improvements store. Police said they do not know when Peckman and Jefferies crossed paths but believe they did not know each other before the shooting.
Earlier that morning, according to court documents, an Independence resident had called dispatch after hearing several shots fired, going to the window and seeing a man get into the passenger side of a Ford Explorer that drove off. About three hours later, a woman called Blue Springs police to say she learned Jefferies had damaged her car with those gunshots in Independence. That caller said Jeffries was in the Autumn Place Apartments in a stolen vehicle and possibly armed, then called back again to say Jefferies was in an apartment complex across the street from Autumn Place.