Defendant is convicted of murder, escapes and is recaptured

By The Examiner staff

An Oak Grove man convicted Thursday of killing a woman in an Independence apartment nearly three years ago tried to escape from the courthouse in Independence after the trial and faces possible further charges. 

A Jackson County jury convicted David Harris, 21, of second-degree murder, first-degree assault and two counts of armed criminal action in fatally shooting of 20-year-old Mary Schmitz and wounding a man in September 2018. The jury recommended sentences of 25, 10, 10 and three years, respectively. 

After the court session, according to the prosecutor’s office, Harris broke through the back door of the courthouse after he apparently removed his leg brace in the restroom. He was soon captured nearby.  

According to court records, Independence police officers were sent to an apartment complex near U.S. 40 and Phelps Road on a report of shots fired. Through a window they saw Schmitz dead on the floor, and after other occupants came out of the apartment they found the second shooting victim in a bedroom, as well as a dead dog. Shortly after, officers did a pedestrian check several blocks away across Interstate 70 on a person matching the suspect description given by the second shooting victim.  

That person, later identified as Harris, told police he’d been in a fight with that victim at the apartment and shot Schmitz during that fight. He told police he ran away and threw the gun in the woods. 

A co-defendant in the case, Michael Lora of Blue Springs, faces similar charges and has not yet been scheduled for trial.