The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

April 15, 2014

Shooter in Joplin murder sentenced to life in prison

The teen convicted of being the triggerman in the murder of Jacob Wages was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

At a hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court in Joplin, Circuit Judge Gayle Crane followed a jury’s recommendations in assessing Daniel D. Hartman, 18, two life sentences on convictions for second-degree murder and armed criminal action, and 15 years on a conviction for burglary. The judge ordered that the terms run concurrently.

Three co-defendants testified at Hartman’s trial in January that he was the one who shot Wages, 23, on July 6, 2012, when they broke into his home on Pearl Avenue in Joplin, looking for a stash of Ecstasy pills and cash that they never found.

Four of five defendants in the case have been convicted of murder and related charges. The others received 15 years in prison. Johnathan “J.T.” Taylor’s case remains pending.

Hartman, a member of a Hoover Street Crips gang in Tulsa, Okla., did not take the witness stand until the penalty phase of his trial, at which time he told jurors that he was innocent and that he had never been to Wages’ home.

He acknowledged coming to Joplin with two other defendants from Tulsa, but claimed that he got messed up on drugs and fell asleep at Johnathan Taylor’s apartment. He testified that he never went to Wages’ home with his co-defendants despite their testimonies to the contrary.

Recent rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Missouri Supreme Court affected Hartman’s trial.

Hartman was 17 at the time of the crime, which was committed about two weeks after the nation’s high court struck down mandatory sentences of life without parole for juvenile offenders. The court did not prohibit life without parole as a sentencing option for defendants younger than 18 but ruled that juries or judges must consider other factors, such as age and maturity level, before meting out such punishment to them.

Missouri law provides just two options for first-degree murder: the death penalty and life without parole. Since the U.S. Supreme Court banned the death penalty for juveniles in 2005, that effectively left just one option in Missouri.

Jurors at Hartman’s trial found him guilty of first-degree murder, but they could not unanimously agree that he should receive a term of life without parole. Crane consequently vacated the jury’s verdict and found Hartman guilty of the lesser included offense of second-degree murder, which allowed the jury to come to an agreement that he should receive two life terms with the possibility of parole.

Previous murder case

A PREVIOUS MURDER CHARGE that Daniel Hartman faced as a juvenile in Tulsa was dismissed when his co-defendant refused to testify against him.

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