Jury convicts Kansas City man of first-degree murder in August 2020 shooting

A Jackson County jury on Friday convicted a Kansas City man of murder in a fatal shooting in Kansas City’s Knoches Park neighborhood from two-and-a-half years ago.

Martel L. Harrison, 26, was convicted of first-degree murder, a crime that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole in Missouri. He stood trial accused of killing 22-year-old Sage Walston of Shawnee.

On Aug. 20, 2020, around 2 a.m., Kansas City police officers found Walston in the road at Linwood Boulevard and Elmwood Avenue after they were dispatched on a call for a person in need of medical assistance.

At the time, police noticed glass near the body and suspected he may have been the victim of a hit-and-run crash. They later learned he had been shot in the head.

Surveillance video and data from a license-plate-reading camera led detectives to conclude Walston’s Toyota Corolla was in the area at the time of the shooting. A microphone from one of the cameras picked up the sound of a gunshot, according to court documents.

The car was found burned and abandoned in Independence about two hours after Walston had been found.

Witnesses led detectives to Harrison, including one witness who said she had helped bring gasoline that was used to set Walston’s car on fire. Harrison was also accused of using Walston’s phone to make a call after the shooting and leaving his own phone at home to stymie the police investigation.

One witness also told police that Harrison admitted to shooting Walston in the back of the head when Walston wasn’t looking.

During a police interview, Harrison denied taking part in the killing or the burning of Walston’s car.

In addition to first-degree murder, the jury found Harrison guilty of armed criminal action and knowingly exploding or burning property. A sentencing hearing was scheduled to take place in Jackson County on June 13.