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Missouri high court tosses mall shooting murder conviction

December 22, 2021 GMT

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a man’s murder conviction in a deadly 2018 shooting outside a suburban Kansas City shopping mall because he wasn’t allowed to argue at trial that he acted in self-defense.

The high court ruled that the trial judge hamstrung Tyler Gates’ attorneys by not allowing them to argue it was self-defense and violated Gates’ constitutional rights.

Jurors convicted Gates in June 2019 of second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the killing of 17-year-old Matthew Haylock at the Independence Center. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Gates’ co-defendant, Luis Ramirez, was sentenced to concurrent terms of eight years in prison for attempted robbery and three years for armed criminal action in the same case.

Prosecutors said the shooting occurred after Gates, who was 18 at the time, and Ramirez, who was also a teen, decided to rob Haylock of a gun. Gates, however, claims he did not rob Haylock. He said he fired in self-defense after Haylock tried to rob him. But he was barred from presenting the self-defense argument at trial.

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The state Supreme Court’s ruling sends the case back to a lower court.

Gates’ attorney, Jeannie Willibey, said in a statement that she is “pleased that the Court upheld the fundamental right of a criminal defendant to tell the jury in his own words his version of what happened” and that “fairness requires a new trial.”

Mike Mansur, a spokesman for the Jackson County prosecutor’s office, said the office is reviewing the decision.