PLATTE CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City man will not be charged after prosecutors said he killed two men over a load of firewood near Parkville earlier this year. A grand jury declined to indict the gunman because of Missouri’s ‘stand your ground law,’ according to the Platte County Prosecutor.
“Missouri’s ‘stand your ground’ law means people do not have to retreat before using force to defend themselves if they are in a place they have a right to be. And while people can never use deadly force merely to protect property, they can use deadly force if they reasonably believe deadly force is necessary to protect themselves against death or serious physical injury,” Eric Zahnd, Platte County Prosecuting Attorney, said.
Kalob Lawson, 34, of Kimberling City, and Jonathan Lutz, 44, of Kansas City, were shot and killed on Feb. 10. Investigators said Lawson and Lutz were paid $200 to deliver a cord of firewood to a home in Platte County. They determined the homeowner paid for the firewood and then left as the men continued to unload the delivery.
Zahnd said the men stopped unloading the firewood and left the home shortly after the owner, delivering less firewood than the homeowner expected. The owner’s 22-year-old son saw what happened and chased after Lawson and Lutz in his own vehicle. He caught up with the men on the shoulder of eastbound 9 Highway.
According to court documents witnesses told investigators that the son stepped out of his vehicle and said something like, “Are you just going to rob my dad?”
Court documents then show that when Lawson and Lutz got out of their vehicle, Lawson was armed with a handgun. The son said Lawson and Lutz were walking toward him, and Lawson raised his gun and pointed it at the son. The son said he reached into his car, removed a gun, and fired multiple times.
Lawson was shot in the chest and face, and Lutz was hit in the abdomen and shoulder. Lawson died at the scene, and Lutz was transported to a hospital, where he later died.
“This is a tragic case in which two people died in a dispute over a mere $200 of firewood, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families. Ultimately, however, after carefully considering the facts and hearing from multiple witnesses, the grand jury found no crime had been committed in the shooting,” Zahnd said.
Lutz’s wife, Bobbie Dority, said Lutz was a father of two, and at the time of his death, they had another child on the way. Lawson left behind three children and a fiancé.
At the time of the shooting, the men’s loved ones said they were selling firewood to provide for their families.