Prosecutors charge Kansas City, Kansas, man in Independence motel killing

Jackson County prosecutors have charged a 33-year-old man with murder in an August fatal shooting in the parking lot of an Independence motel.

Charles J. White, of Kansas City, Kansas, is accused of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Carlos Palacio, also of Kansas City, Kansas.

White was in police custody Wednesday, according to prosecutors. An arrest warrant calls for White to be held in the county jail on a $500,000 cash bond.

The fatal shooting happened Aug. 3 in the parking lot of the Sports Stadium Inn Motel at 9803 East U.S. Highway 40 in Independence. Police officers were dispatched there around 2 a.m. on a reported shooting.

The gunshot victim, Palacio, was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy showed he was shot in the back.

Detectives reviewed surveillance video from the motel and nearby businesses. Footage showed a black SUV and a silver sedan in the area of the motel and a bar down the street in the hours before the killing.

A witness told detectives Palacio was known to use and sell narcotics. She said they were at the motel together until around 12:30 a.m. when she went to sleep and he told her he would be outside.

Surveillance video from the area showed Palacio standing out front of the motel and using his phone. At one point, he walked past the black SUV and a person emerged from its passenger side holding a rifle, according to court documents.

He turned to run toward the motel before he was shot.

Detectives shared images from the surveillance footage with other area law enforcement agencies. A detective in Fairway, Kansas, recognized White in the pictures, known for being on probation for an unrelated offense in Wyandotte County.

Search warrants obtained White’s cellphone number registered with the probation officer. A trace showed the phone being in the area on the morning Palacio was killed.

Other digital records reviewed by police included Facebook messages and phone calls. White allegedly posed as a person whom Palacio had previously purchased drugs from, saying in a Facebook message thread to meet outside by a black truck.

Charging documents filed Wednesday did not state whether police interviewed White. Online court records did not list a defense attorney representing him in the first-degree murder case.

Under Missouri law, those convicted of first-degree murder, a Class A felony, face either life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.