Kansas City man to enter plea Friday in 2020 murder of 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro

The Kansas City man accused of killing 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro in 2020 will enter a plea in Jackson County Circuit Court Friday.

Ryson Ellis’ trial was delayed several times before it was rescheduled to Dec. 12. Now, in lieu of the trial, a plea hearing is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Friday afternoon, according to documents filed Wednesday.

Ellis, 24, allegedly shot LeGend in late June 2020 while the boy slept at the Citadel Apartments in southeast Kansas City. He was charged with second-degree murder, unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of armed criminal action.

Outrage due to the shooting spurred a federal anti-crime initiative called Operation LeGend, leading to several arrests in various cases. U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced the movement at a press conference in Kansas City, saying it was “flattening the curve” of crime in the city.

Ellis was arrested in Tulsa, Oklahoma in August 2020, before being extradited to Jackson County.

A woman told detectives that, a week before the shooting, Ellis had allegedly assaulted her by striking her in the head. He then yanked her baby, who was not LeGend, out of her arms and left.

After telling relatives about the assault, her brothers — one of whom is the father of LeGend — went to Ellis’ residence to confront him. A fight broke out, leaving Ellis injured. Ellis’ mother allegedly grabbed a gun and began to make threats. The woman then grabbed her son, and the family left, according to prosecutors.

When the shooting happened, the woman had been staying with her mother at the Citadel Apartments out of fear Ellis would hurt her, she told detectives. She had filed an ex-parte order against him, police said.

The woman was asleep on a couch when the apartment came under fire, killing LeGend.

Detectives determined a suspect vehicle, a Ford Fusion, that was captured on video had been rented during the time of LeGend’s murder. A witness told police she drove the car that night and said Ellis got out of it near the apartment before she heard gunshots, according to prosecutors.

Police later connected the vehicle to Ellis.

The Star’s Katie Bernard and Luke Nozicka contributed to the reporting of this story.