A teen who fatally shot a Shawnee Mission North High School student in a schoolyard fight will face more than 13 years in prison, a judge ruled Friday.
A jury convicted Stephen A. Reed, 17, in September of second-degree murder and of criminal possession of a firearm by a juvenile in the fatal shooting of Ryder Spillman, 16, of Kansas City, Kan.
A Wyandotte County District Court judge sentenced Reed to 165 months in prison for the murder charge and a year for the firearm charge, with both sentences running concurrently.
Prosecutor Jennifer Myers called the murder — which left one teen dead and two young cousins incarcerated — a “senseless killing” that escalated from a feud in which neither party could really give a reason for why they didn’t get along.
Passers-by found Ryder’s body the morning of April 24 outside Thomas A. Edison Elementary School, 1000 Locust St. in Kansas City, Kan.
Ryder, a regular at the Roeland Park skatepark, showed up alone the night before to fight members of Reed’s gang, New Mafia. When Ryder approached the crew’s SUV on foot, Reed used his right hand to fire out the vehicle’s window as he drove with his left.
Michelle Spillman, her voice wavering, read a letter to the court describing how her son’s death had affected relatives.
“We no longer have a family — our family was torn apart,” she said. “Ryder was the center of our family.”
Ryder’s older brother suffers “horribly,” Michelle Spillman said. “I can see it in his eyes every time I look into them.”
The last time his 11-year-old sister saw Ryder before he was killed, the two were fighting, their mother said. She told him she hated him, and he said he hated her.
“She still cries herself to sleep and has nightmares,” Michelle Spillman said. “I have her in counseling, as am I.”
When asked whether he wanted to say anything to the court, Reed apologized.
“I’d like to say sorry to the Spillman family for what occurred on the night of April 23,” Reed said, “and if they could find it in their hearts to forgive me…”
Reed’s cousin, Shane Reed, 18, was sentenced in August to 18 months in juvenile jail with 12 months of aftercare for aiding a felon and possession of a firearm by a juvenile. In a preliminary hearing, witnesses told the court that while Shane Reed did not fire the lethal shot, he was present and the gun belonged to him.
After today’s sentencing, Stephen Reed’s mother, Theresa Reed, said vandalism and intimidation forced her and her brother, who is Shane Reed’s father, to move away from their Prairie Village homes to Kansas City, Kan. She’s also written letters to Gov. Sam Brownback urging lawmakers to crack down on the availability of guns.
Theresa Reed said her son was remorseful, feared for his life and never meant for anyone to be killed. She said she hopes to appeal, and that his conviction could be overturned to a lesser charge.