UPDATED: Northeast Teen Charged in Independence Center murder

Michael Bushnell

Northeast News

A second defendant has been charged with Second Degree Murder and Armed Criminal Action in the January 2nd Independence Center murder of Matthew Haylock.
Court documents reveal that 17-year-old Luis Ramirez, who resided in the 3200 block of Anderson Avenue in the Scarritt Renaissance neighborhood, conspired with 17-year-old co-defendant Tyler Gates of Independence to rob and murder the victim.

A Probable Cause statement released last week by the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office stated that police originally responded to Independence Center just after 8:30 p.m. on January 2 in response to a shooting. At that time, Matthew Haylock was found in the parking lot with a gunshot wound, where he was pronounced deceased by the medical response team.

The resulting investigation led authorities to Ramirez, who ultimately relayed his account of the evening, beginning at roughly 7 p.m. when Ramirez and Gates picked up the victim in a white 2003 Chevy Cavalier. According to Ramirez, Haylock brought a Glock 9 mm along for the trip to Independence Center to purchase tennis shoes. While the car was stopped at the intersection of M-291 Highway and E. 39th Street South, Ramirez told authorities that Gates asked Haylock if he could hold the Glock 9mm. Haylock complied, and the trio proceeded to Independence Center.
Ramirez later told authorities that he and Gates had conspired to rob Haylock of the Glock 9mm about three days prior to the shooting. But on January 2, Ramirez said, he got cold feet and informed Gates that he no longer wanted to participate in the robbery. Ramirez told authorities that he immediately exited the vehicle upon arriving at Independence Center, though Gates and Haylock remained inside.

The Probable Cause statement indicates that Gates went on to fire the weapon at Haylock as he sat in the rear passenger seat of the Chevy Cavalier. After the shooting, Ramirez said that he ran to the side window and witnessed Haylock slumped over in the seat. According to Ramirez, Gates then asked for his help in the disposal of the body. Ramirez refused, indicating he was going to call 911. Indeed, a signed Consent to Search Cellular Phone form later determined that Ramirez made an outgoing 911 call at 8:31 on January 2. From there, Gates retained the weapon and left Independence Center. The defendant’s car was found a short time later along with the alleged murder weapon.

A follow-up interview with Gates’ mother revealed that she had been in contact with a frantic Gates immediately after the incident. Gates insisted that he needed a ride home, and pinged an address to her phone. She picked him up just before 9 p.m., and at that point, Gates confided that he’d been involved in an altercation. Initially, Gates claimed that an unknown figure had jumped into the vehicle and started a physical confrontation.

“I shot him, Mom,” Gates allegedly told his mother.

During her interview with police, Gates’ mother called her son to convince him to turn himself in. In response to the plea, Gates asked who had come to her home to bring her in for questioning. When Gates learned that a SWAT team had come to her house, his thoughts turned to Ramirez.

“Then that means Luis snitched then I’m going to kill him too,” Gates said before hanging up the phone.

Gates was charged on January 3, and Ramirez was subsequently charged on January 5. Prosecutors are seeking a $250,000 cash bond for Ramirez.

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