A Greenwood man convicted of killing an Independence native in Kansas City apartment in November 2017 has been sentenced to life in prison.
A Jackson County jury two months ago found 30-year-old Patrick Powell guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the shooting death of 52-year-old Rodney Thurber. On Friday, Circuit Judge Jalilah Otto sentenced Powell to life in prison with parole for murder, plus 10 years for armed criminal action to run concurrently.
Co-defendant Caitlyn Riffle, 26, who is from Independence but had been living with Powell prior to the murder, still faces first-degree murder and armed criminal action charges and is scheduled to go to trial Jan. 6, 2020. According to court documents, she had visited the apartment where Thurber was shot to retrive a handgun shortly before Powell went to the apartment and shot Thurber.
Police found Thurber dead from gunshots after being sent to the 4600 block of Tracy Avenue in the early evening of Nov. 11. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police found four spent casings at the scene.
According to court records, a female witness told police a woman believed to be Riffle visited Thurber's apartment to retrieve a handgun. A short time after the woman left, a man who knocked on the door and then pushed his way inside shot Thurber twice, identified himself as Riffle's boyfriend Patrick and shot Thurber again before leaving.
Police used video from near the apartment, a fast-food restaurant around the corner and Walmart stores in Lee's Summit and Independence, information from Thurber's cell phone, a gun trace and Department of Revenue records to point the investigation toward Powell and Riffle. Powell's mother had bought the gun, and Riffle had been driving the suspect vehicle, a silver BMW reported stolen in Kansas City five days before the shooting and abandoned a day after the shooting in a Walmart parking lot.
The two were arrested together by Kansas City at the QuikTrip on U.S. 24 in northeast Independence. By then, Powell had altered his appearance, having shaved his facial hair and cutting his hair down to a buzz cut.
Riffle claimed to police that she tried to retrieve the handgun from the Tracy Avenue apartment, but a female there said the gun wasn't there. She then took Powell there so he could retrieve the gun himself. When Powell re-entered the vehicle, he said, “We're good,” and they left the area. Riffle denied knowing Powell shot anyone. When police told her the witness said Riffle had already retrieved the handgun before the shooting, Riffle asked for an attorney.