Two Independence men face murder charges in the December 2017 shooting death of a Blue Springs teenager outside a north-side Blue Springs duplex.
Jackson County prosecutors late Friday charged Taron Thompson and Javonte Tiger, both 21, each with second-degree murder, unlawful use of a weapon by shooting from a car, and two counts of armed criminal action. Tiger was 19 years old and Thompson not quite 19 when they allegedly shot and killed 16-year-old Colby Stephenson.
The shooting happened before 2 a.m. on Dec. 18, a Monday. Blue Springs Police responding to a shots fired call in the neighborhood surrounding Blue Springs Country Club found Stephenson dead in the front yard from a gunshot to the head.
According to court documents, police learned Stephenson and three others left a gathering there and were walking to a car when a hail of gunfire started, but all witnesses said they didn’t know who did the shooting and didn’t have any known enemies. Police recovered 37 shell casings from the scene – 11 from a .45 caliber gun and 26 from four different 9mm guns. Stephenson had been killed from a .45 caliber round.
Police also received a tip of a red car leaving the scene and a possible suspect named “Javonte.”
Two days after the shooting, Tiger, Thompson and another person were in a red Dodge Avenger that Independence Police stopped for a traffic violation. They were arrested on traffic charges or outstanding warrants. Thompson said the 9mm gun found in the car was his but denied any involvement in the shooting, saying he was at home. Tiger refused to talk about the homicide.
Tests later showed some of shell casings at the crime scene came from Thompson’s gun, and cell phone records placed Thompson and Tiger near the crime scene about the time of the shooting.
Tiger had been on house arrest at the time of the shooting, and records showed he was out of range of his ankle monitor from an hour before the shooting to 1½ hours after the shooting.
Court records show Tiger pleaded guilty in September 2017 to a burglary in 2016 and had been on probation. In May 2019 he pleaded guilty to burglary, assault, unlawful use of a weapon and receiving stolen property from three different cases the previous two years and was sentenced to seven years in prison.
In June 2018, one witness said he’d been robbed by Thompson and Tiger the night before the shooting, and he’d been in the same car – Tiger’s car – he saw the shots coming from.
In April 2019, one of the witnesses who had left with Stephenson was in custody on an unrelated case and said Tiger “shot my cousin in the head” and Thompson also had been among the shooters. Two witnesses said Tiger was about 10 feet away from Stephenson when he shot him, and one said Tiger yelled, “Yeah, we got ya’ll now!”