Judge gives life in prison to Henry County man convicted of murdering police officer

A Jackson County judge sentenced a 45-year-old man to life in prison without the possibility of parole in the 2017 killing of a southwest Missouri police officer.

Ian McCarthy, of Clinton, alternatively faced a death sentence for his conviction of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of police officer Gary Lee Michael Jr.

McCarthy shot Michael with a high-powered rifle during a traffic stop in Clinton, roughly 80 miles from Kansas City, on Aug. 6, 2017.

Jackson County Judge Marco Roldan issued the lifelong sentence late Friday morning. The case was a rare example of a death-penalty decision resting with a judge.

The trial was moved from Henry County to Jackson County, and the jury was selected from Platte County. On June 26, the jury returned a guilty verdict on the murder charge but could not come to a unanimous decision on sentencing.

Henry County prosecutors sought the death penalty for McCarthy. Defense attorneys for McCarthy argued against that punishment, in part by saying the Missouri law allowing judges to issue death sentences does not align with civil rights afforded under the U.S. Constitution.

Missouri and Indiana are the two states with capital punishment where a judge may order a death sentence. Others that still use the death penalty require a jury to issue the sentence.

Roldan denied a motion by the defense to declare the state’s death penalty law as unconstitutional.

The Star’s Katie Moore contributed to this report.