INCIDENT AT PARK IN RIVERSIDE
A 15-year-old boy who shot a 17-year-old girl in the head over $20 of marijuana was
sentenced to 26 years in prison on Oct. 19.
Judge Thomas Fincham handed down the sentence to Jay Palmer, now 17, after he was found guilty by a Platte County jury of
second degree assault, stealing, and two counts of armed criminal action after a seven-day trial in May.
Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said, “This is a truly tragic case. One teenager will live with serious brain injuries for the rest of her life, and another will spend many years in prison. And it was all over $20 worth of marijuana. Terrible choices to use
a gun during a crime comes with terrible results.”
Palmer was certified to stand trial as an adult after the shooting in Homestead Park in
Riverside on Dec. 30, 2020.
Palmer arranged to buy $20 of marijuana from the girl via a series of text messages. After he arrived at the park, there was a disagreement over the method of payment for the drugs. When the girl tried to get the marijuana back from Palmer, Palmer shot her in the head.
Several 911 callers heard the gunshot and saw the girl lying in a pool of blood. They also saw a gold or tan four-door sedan driving away from the area at a high rate of speed.
Riverside police officers and firefighters responded within minutes and found the girl still alive with a gunshot wound above her left eye.
She was taken to North Kansas City Hospital with life-threatening injuries and underwent emergency surgery. She was transferred to Children’s Mercy Hospital, where she spent the next several months recovering. She remains partially paralyzed, blind in one eye, and can only communicate using one- or two-word sentences.
The Kansas City Metro Squad was activated and detectives from more than half a dozen jurisdictions spent three days developing leads and interviewing witnesses.
Investigators recovered surveillance video that captured a vehicle matching the witnesses’ descriptions leaving the area of the park at the time of the shooting.
On Dec. 31, 2020, detectives found the suspect vehicle driving northbound on I-29 and followed it to the Crossings at Barry Road Apartments. Palmer lived at the Crossings at Barry Road with another family member who drove the car away from the scene of the crime.
A search of the vehicle revealed the victim’s blood inside and outside the car, and Palmer’s bloody shirt was found in a laundry basket inside his apartment.
At trial, Palmer claimed the girl “attacked” him when she tried to get her marijuana back.
He said the gun accidentally went off after he pulled it out to get her to “back up.” It was uncontested that the girl was not armed at Homestead Park, and no weapons were found in her home.
Fincham followed the jury’s sentencing recommendation on each count, and ran each sentence consecutive to each other.
Zahnd said, “While the jury’s verdict and Judge Fincham’s sentence provided justice for the teen victim in this case, there are no winners today. We have failed as parents and a community when our parks become shooting galleries and teens’ lives are forever changed for the worse due to the drug trade. We simply have to do a better job as parents teaching kids right from wrong.”
The case was investigated by the Riverside Police Department, with the assistance of the Kansas City Metro Squad, the Platte County Sheriff’s Department, and the Kansas City, Missouri Crime Laboratory.
It was tried by former assistant prosecuting attorney Brice Barnard, who now practices law in the law firm Votava, Nantz, and Johnson, and Mark Gibson, first assistant prosecuting attorney.