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19-year-old charged with fatal shooting in Independence, suspected to be drug deal gone wrong


A 19-year-old is accused of fatally killing another 19-year-old inside a vehicle in mid-December in Independence over a suspected marijuana deal in which authorities found $60 in counterfeit bills at the crime scene.

Chadd J. Williams, of the Independence, was charged Wednesday in Jackson County Circuit Court with second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and two counts of armed felony in the killing of James D. Smith, also 19 years old and coming from Independence.

Williams was arrested Tuesday shortly after he was seen leaving Truman High School at 3301 South Noland Road in Independence, according to court documents.

At approximately 3:30 am on December 18, Independence Police officers were dispatched to the 1000 block of South Brookside Avenue on a report of an unconscious man inside a vehicle parked near the garbage dumpsters of a apartment complex.

Responding officers found Smith in the driver’s seat of a black Chrysler 300. All of his doors were ajar, according to court documents, and three $20 bills were on the ground that appeared to investigators to be fake.

Smith had obvious wounds to his face and an apparent gunshot wound to his chest. According to the prosecution documents, video recordings of the area and other information obtained by investigators led them to wrap up the Dec. 17 shooting at around 5:30 p.m., about 10 hours before officers were first dispatched to the scene.

Surveillance video from the Brookside Apartments complex showed a Nissan SUV pulling into a parking lot for the apartments. At least three people were inside that vehicle, charging documents say, and two were at one point seen walking towards the area where Smith’s vehicle was found parked.

The video also recorded an apparent struggle inside Smith’s vehicle. One of the suspects was seen holding what appeared to be a firearm equipped with a flashlight and a green laser sight.

On Dec. 22, detectives received photographs from Smith’s Snapchat account containing messages of a marijuana purchase deal. Logs obtained by the detectives were compared with phone records, including location information, which led to Williams as a suspect in the murder investigation, according to court documents.

On Monday, Independence Police traced the phone associated with Williams to Truman High School. A school resource officer identified the suspect as Williams after being shown a Snapchat video, according to prosecution documents, and investigators further compared the video to photographs from Truman High School.

Detectives followed Williams to his Independence home, a Walmart and Truman High School on Monday and Tuesday. He was arrested at a gas station and convenience store after walking from school after classes ended on Tuesday afternoon.

During an interview with Independence detectives, Williams said he was not in Independence the evening of December 17 and was visiting his grandmother in Kansas City. Authorities say her statements were contradicted by cell phone location data obtained with assistance from the FBI.

Court records did not list a defense attorney for Williams as of Wednesday afternoon.

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