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Murder Trial Begins In Case Kansas City Prosecutors Say Stems From Romantic Rivalry

Peggy Lowe
KCUR 89.3

As the Kansas City Police patrol car pulled up, the dashboard camera caught Torrence “Trimmer” Evans fighting for his life on Sept. 25, 2016. His two best friends were bent over his body, crumpled on the street, telling Evans: “Stay with me! Breathe, brother!”

Evans had been shot several times, Officer Jason Grizzoffi testified Wednesday during the opening arguments in the murder trial of Dairian Stanley.

“He’s hanging on, he’s hanging on,” Evans' buddies, Gary Cole and Leonard Edwards, can be heard saying in the dashcam footage.

More than a dozen members of Evans' family watched the footage Wednesday in a Jackson County courtroom, seeing how his body was pulled onto a gurney and loaded into an ambulance that Sunday morning in the 5600 block of Hardesty Street in south Kansas City. They cried, passing a box of tissues and comforting each other while watching his last moments alive. He died the day before his 26th birthday.

Stanley, 22, is accused of shooting Evans, along with charges of kidnapping and armed criminal action.
Prosecutor Christopher Accurso said the killing came down to jealousy, because Stanley's ex-girlfriend was seeing Evans. 
“If I can’t have you, can’t nobody have you,” Accurso quoted Stanley as telling his ex-girlfriend, Correal Settle.
Stanley’s case was the subject of a story in KCUR’s six-part series “The Argument,” an in-depth look at the more than 200 homicides in the Kansas City area in 2016. Stanley, who fired his public defender and is representing himself, opted not to give an opening statement Wednesday. 

During questioning of Evans’ friends, Stanley appeared to try to persuade the jury that he was never seen at the crime scene. Settle, now 26, originally identified Stanley as the shooter, but Accurso said in court that she has changed her testimony since the day of the shooting.

Accurso told jurors that the trial will show Stanley met Settle at a BP gas station, assaulted her and threatened to kill her children if she didn’t tell him who she had been seeing. Stanley allegedly said he would kill Evans, his romantic rival, and take Settle with him to watch.

“True to his word,” Accurso said, “Miss Settle had to watch him kill Mr. Evans.”

Cole, who described himself as a close friend, said Evans had come back from Texas where he was pursuing his music career. It was his birthday weekend and the two, along with two other friends, had attended a family party the night before. They had just met Settle and didn't know Stanley, they said.

The buddies were watching pregame coverage of the Kansas City Chiefs game when they heard gunshots. Cole bent over in the witness box and sobbed as he recalled running out to Evans' side.

“He shot me! He shot me!” Cole remembered Evans saying.

The trial, which is before Jackson County Judge Charles McKenzie, is expected to last a week.

Peggy Lowe is KCUR's investigations editor and is on Twitter at @peggyllowe.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
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