A Jackson County jury has convicted an Independence man of murder in the shooting death of a 17-year-old last year in the Independence Center parking lot.
The jury late Thursday found 19-year-old Tyler Gates guilty of second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the fatal shooting of Matthew Haylock on Jan. 2, 2018. The jury also recommended that sentences of 20 and seven years, respectively, for those convictions. Circuit Court Judge Jack Grate cannot exceed those recommendations when he sentences Gates Aug. 14.
Gates' co-defendant, 18-year-old Luis Ramirez, initially faced the same charges and had been scheduled to go on trial next week, but he pleaded guilty last month to attempted robbery and armed criminal action. Grate is to sentence him June 27.
According to court documents, Gates and Ramirez decided to rob Haylock of a Glock 9mm handgun he had shown them during a three-way FaceTime conversation a few days earlier, but then Ramirez tried to back out of it.
On the day of the murder, Gates and Ramirez drove to Haylock's home and picked him up, and three went toward the mall. Gates, who was driving, asked Haylock to see his gun, then refused to give it back and pointed it at Haylock.
Ramirez told Gates not to rob his friend, but then as he was walking behind the vehicle he heard one gunshot and saw Haylock slumped over. Ramirez said he refused to help Gates push Haylock's body out of the car, then refused to drive away with him and said he was calling 911.
Gates drove off, and police later found the car in a residential area a couple of miles from the shooting, with a red substance presumed to be blood in the rear passenger seat and two handguns in the front. Ramirez later told police he and Gates had obtained a Glock 26 about 1 a.m. that day from an unknown source. It was for protection after their house had been shot at the day before. He told police he did not know the gun had been reported stolen out of St. Joseph.
A member of Gates' family told police Gates had been in a “frantic state” and asked her to pick him up, which she did shortly before 9 p.m. Gates then said he had gotten into an altercation and said “I shot him ...” At that point, a television news report of the shooting came on, and when Gates saw it he said he had “(messed) up his life.”
The family member then said Gates told her he and two others had gone to the shopping center to “squash everything” regarding his house being shot at. He told her an unknown person had gotten into the car and tried to strike Gates on the head with a pistol, and Gates shot the person and pushed him out of the vehicle.
While with police, the woman tried talking to Gates over the phone and urged that he turn himself in. When told police were at the house, Gates said he would also kill Ramirez because he “snitched.”