Lee’s Summit man receives 20 years in fatal 2020 Independence shooting, prosecutors say

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A Lee’s Summit man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison in the fatal shooting of an Independence man outside a home one year ago.

Arieous K. Walton-Merritt, 24, was charged last year with one count of second-degree murder and one count of armed criminal action in the killing of Matthew Bland-Williams. Walton-Merritt was instead convicted at trial in May by a Jackson County jury of involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action.

According to court records, Independence police responded to a shooting in the 18800 block of East Wigwam Place just before 6:30 p.m. on July 23, 2020. They found Bland-Williams collapsed in front of the home and Walton-Merritt at a nearby home. Both had been shot.

Detectives reviewed surveillance video from a neighboring residence where Walton-Merritt was seen firing two gunshots before a struggle began between the two men. Bland-Williams then wrestled the gun away and fired at Walton-Merritt as he fled in a Chevy Camaro, according to court records.

Bland-Williams, 26, was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

In the wake of his killing, Pamela Bland, his mother, described her son as “funny and loving.” He was very close with his cousins and had a large group of friends, she said at the time.

“His life was snatched away before he could reach his full potential,” Bland said.

The Star’s Cortlynn Stark contributed to this report.

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