The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 28, 2014

Trial of presumed shooter in Joplin murder opens

Daniel Hartman and his accomplices went to Jacob Wages’ home in the middle of the night looking to rip off his stash of Ecstasy pills and $5,000 in cash.

They knew Wages possessed an assault rifle and was proficient in mixed martial arts.

So Hartman brought a .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol, Assistant Prosecutor Norman Rouse alleged Tuesday during opening statements at Hartman’s trial in Jasper County Circuit Court in Joplin.

While four other young men were charged in the slaying of Wages, 23, on July 6, 2012, the 18-year-old Hartman, of Tulsa, Okla., is the alleged shooter in the case and the only defendant charged with first-degree murder as well as burglary. He also is the first to be tried.

Opening statements were made by attorneys after jury selection was completed Tuesday afternoon, with six women and six men chosen to hear the case.

Rouse said jurors will hear testimony that Hartman was the one who kicked in the back door of Wages’ home at 1912 S. Pearl Ave. After pausing a moment in the kitchen to see if they had awakened Wages, they proceeded to the bedroom where the victim was still asleep with his girlfriend, the prosecutor said.

One of the other intruders, Marcus Stephens, spotted the assault rifle and grabbed it, and they began looking for a black box in which, they believed, Wages kept drugs and money. When they couldn’t find the box, they woke him up, the prosecutor said. He rose up out of bed and was stretching when the defendant suddenly shot three times, he said.

“He hit him in the heart,” Rouse told jurors. “Killed him. That’s all it took.”

He said the intruders fled after the shooting, although some later returned to look once more for the box. This time they found it, he said. Only it turned out there was nothing in it, he said.

Hartman’s attorney, William Fleischaker, told jurors that the prosecutor’s account is just one of several versions that they will hear of what happened the night in question.

Fleischaker informed the jury that two of his client’s co-defendants, Marcus Stephens, 17, and Cody Stephens, 22, no relation, have taken plea deals in exchange for their testimony against Hartman, and that a third, Elijah Taylor, 18, was offered the same. Marcus Stephens and Cody Stephens pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and burglary and have been promised not to have to serve more than 15 years behind bars, Fleischaker said.

“What you’re going to find then is that every witness against Daniel has some kind of deal to testify,” Fleischaker said.

But there also have been accounts provided in the case that Cody Stephens was the one who kicked in the door and that “up until a few minutes before the victim was shot,” the murder weapon — the .22-caliber pistol — was in the possession of the fifth co-defendant, Johnathan Taylor, 20, Fleischaker said. He said still more versions emerged during depositions of witnesses obtained just in the past two weeks.

“Nobody knows who did what,” Fleischaker concluded.

The state called two Joplin police detectives as witnesses before Circuit Judge Gayle Crane sent jurors home for the day in what is expected to be a three-day trial.

Detective William Davis testified that the slaying was not reported until 8 a.m., or about five hours after the presumed time of the shooting. Davis was never asked to explain why during his testimony, and Rouse provided no explanation during his opening statement as to why the girlfriend did not immediately call for help.

Davis testified that fragments of two separate bullets were recovered from a south wall of the victim’s bedroom and from a crawl space beneath the floor of the room. A third .22-caliber round was recovered from Wages’ body during an autopsy performed in Columbia, the detective said. Two shell casings also were found at the scene, he told the court.


POLICE DETECTIVE JUSTIN BARNETT testified Tuesday that he videographed a walk-through of the murder scene that co-defendant Cody Stephens made with police. A CD of that video recording was admitted as evidence but has yet to be played for the jury in Daniel Hartman’s trial.

Text Only
Local News
  • 0420earthday.jpg Prairie State Park kicks off Earth Day events

    Prairie State Park began celebrating Earth Day early with an event Saturday that provided a chance for people of all ages to learn more about how they can protect the environment.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joplin Catholic schools to hold annual spring auction

    The Joplin Area Catholic Schools spring auction will be staged Saturday at the Jack Lawton Webb Convention Center, 5300 S. Range Line Road in Joplin.

    April 19, 2014

  • Wally Kennedy MUG72.jpg Wally Kennedy: Another pizza choice and ice cream on the way

    A new pizza restaurant is coming to the northwest corner of Stone’s Corner in the Village of Airport Drive. Piez is opening this week in a storefront that formerly housed Quincy Magoo’s, 6039 N. Main Street Road, which has been closed for more than two years.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • mike pound_cnhi .jpg Mike Pound: No more hiding Easter eggs or emotions

    Well, that’s a wrap on the Easter egg hunts. For about 15 years we have staged not one, but two Easter egg hunts for our now 16-year-old daughter, Emma.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041914 Wedding1_72.jpg VIDEO: Cancer patient walks down aisle in wedding thrown by friends

    A year ago, Schandera Jordan was diagnosed with a rare form cervical cancer. And months after a radical hysterectomy, doctors confirmed the worst: The cancer had spread to her lungs and pancreas.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • r041614giregabby.jpg SLIDE SHOW: Teen with cystic fibrosis finds widespread support

    When the Nevada Show Choir performs its spring show on stage, it’s impossible to pick out the student with cystic fibrosis because there are no outward clues.
    Gabby Gire, 18, is just another performer. She sings, she dances, she smiles for the audience.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • Enrollment open for Joplin summer school

    Enrollment is now open for the Joplin school district’s summer school session, which will run Wednesday, June 4, though Tuesday, July 1.

    April 19, 2014

  • r041814capbus4.jpg Funding shortfall could hinder public transportation in Southeast Kansas

    For the past two years, Pittsburg State University sophomore Travis Cook has been using public transportation to get to and from his classes. He began using the bus his freshman year, when he didn’t have a vehicle to drive even to the grocery store — which is said to be the case for many who use the service.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bruner denied change of venue for murder trial

    Circuit Judge Gayle Crane has denied a change of venue for a defendant charged with fatally shooting an assistant football coach at Missouri Southern State University. The attorney for Jeffrey Bruner claimed pretrial publicity as the reason for seeking a change of venue in Jasper County Circuit Court.

    April 18, 2014

  • Russell family sues city, Joplin police

    Family members of a teenage girl whose suicide a year ago brought them into conflict with police officers and emergency medical technicians are suing the city and the Joplin Police Department. Kevin and Julissa Russell and their son, Brant Russell, are the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in Jasper County Circuit Court. The action filed on the Russells’ behalf by Kansas City attorney Andrew Protzman names the city, the Police Department and Officers Austin Wolf and Tyler Christensen as defendants.

    April 18, 2014

Must Read


The United States is considering deploying about 150 soldiers for military exercises to begin in Poland and Estonia in the next few weeks, following Russia's buildup of forces near its border with Ukraine. Do you think we should deploy these troops?

     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter