State of Missouri v. Lemoine Carter

955 S.W. 2d 548 (Mobanc 1997)

9/16/03 – A Kansas City judge has sentenced Lemoine Carter to life in prison without parole. Both of Lemoine Carter’s death sentences were overturned after the U-S Supreme Court ruled that judges could not impose death sentences. The sentences must be imposed by juries. Carter had been sentenced to death in 1995 after the jury couldn’t decide what his sentence should be.

Case Facts: Carter lived in Kansas City with his wife, Laquitta. Carter was employed at Kenny’s Newsroom, a restaurant and bar in Kansas City, Missouri. On April 17, 1994, Carter’s wife drove him to Kenny’s Newsroom to play pool. While there, a man Carter did not know challenged Carter to a game of pool. Carter accepted the challenge and placed $20 on the pool table. A bystander, Ralph Serrano, took the $20 and walked away. When Carter asked for his money back, Serrano pulled a knife on Carter. Carter retreated to the downstairs kitchen to retrieve a larger knife. On returning, Serrano still refused to give up the money. A bartender broke up the dispute and Carter returned downstairs. A woman with Serrano, LeVonn Baker-Howard, returned the $20 to Carter. Carter then left Kenny’s but returned shortly to retrieve keys and cigarettes he had left inside. While there Carter had another drink. After the drink, Carter again left Kenny’s with his brother-in-law, Rodney Temple.

Carter and Temple left in Temple’s 1980 two-tones blue Pontiac station wagon. The two headed north on Broadway. Approximately three blocks from Kenny’s, Carter told Temple to pull into an alley so Carter could urinate. Temple and Carter pulled into an alley just south of the intersection of Armour and Broadway. By this time, Carter had already taken a .40 caliber handgun from beneath the passenger seat in Temple’s car and put it in his waistband. Once he was out of the car, Carter saw that Ralph Serrano and LeVonn Baker-Howard were also in the parking lot. Carter and the two victims argued. Carter then shot one of the victims paused for four or five seconds, and then shot the other victim. One witness heard Baker-Howard scream out from the parking lot, “You dirty son-of-a-bitch” after the first shots were fired. A witness that lived on the first floor apartment building went to the window and saw Serrano and Baker-Howard lying in the parking lot with Carter standing over them. Other witness saw the same thing from across the street. From across the street, one of the witnesses saw Carter lean over and fire at one of the bodies on the ground. Carter then walked slowly away and got into the passenger side of Temple’s station wagon, which then drove out of the parking lot without its lights on. Carter and Temple then headed east on Armour.

Kansas City police officer Henry Stivers was near the intersection of Armour and Broadway when he heard gunshots. An older-model, two-toned blue station wagon passed Officer Stivers’ car. Shortly thereafter, Stivers received information that a blue car was involved in the shooting. Officer Stivers immediately tried to find the station wagon that had just passed but was unable to do so. He then returned to the location where he had heard the shots.

Police arrested Carter on April 22, 1994. At that time, Carter gave a videotaped confession to the murders.