LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. — Two of the four people accused of the 2019 murder of a 19-year-old man outside a Raytown pool hall are out of jail on bond awaiting trial.
According to court records, one of those suspects was captured on video firing shots at the victim.
Riley McCrackin was shot and killed in an alley behind a Raytown pool hall two years ago.
His aunt, Jennifer Nussbeck, said Riley was outgoing and had a vibrant personality.
His death hit her and the rest of McCrackin’s family and friends hard.
"It is surreal, it is unimaginable at the time, you know. As we all say, we didn't ask to part of this," she said.
Still filled with grief, Nussbeck is also outraged that two of the four suspects in her nephew’s murder were released on bond as they await trial.
"They're living next door to our neighbors, our friends, family members, and the public really doesn't know this is happening," Nussbeck said.
Raytown Police arrested four people in McCrackin’s death.
Logan England and Tynan Mullen are both charged with first-degree murder in the case.
Mackenzie Hyatt and Kaci Cox are both charged with second-degree murder.
England and Cox are still in jail because less than two months after they were charged in McCrackin’s death, they were both charged with the 2018 murder of 17-year-old Makayla Brooks.
Court records show, despite being one of the two accused trigger men, England’s original bond in the McCrackin case was ten percent of $200,000, or $20,000, while Cox’s bond in the McCrackin case was set at $250,000 full cash.
But then when England and Cox were charged with the Brooks murder, their bonds in that case were set at $350,000 full cash.
However, the other two defendants in the McCrackin case, Hyatt and Mullen, have both been released from jail on bond as they await trial.
In July 2020, Mullen’s attorney, Shannon Peterson, successfully argued to reduce Mullen’s bond from $250,000 full cash to ten percent of $50,000, or $5,000.
"If they thought he was such a danger to the community that he shouldn't be out at all, they would have set no bail," Peterson said.
At the time of the July bond hearing, Mullen had been in the Jackson County Detention Center for 13 months.
Court documents show Peterson argued that extended stay exposed him to COVID-19.
He also argued Mullen, under Missouri’s bond rules, should have a bond he could afford.
In response, Prosecutor Hallie Williams said there was no COVID-19 outbreak at the jail at the time and claimed Mullen is a danger to the community.
She noted Mullen had previously brought guns to Lee’s Summit High School and showed them off in the parking lot where he was caught.
A 2018 41 Action News Report noted Mullen was among four teens charged in the case for bringing several firearms to the school, including an AR-15.
At the bond reduction hearing, Williams said about Mullen, “It wasn’t even four months later when he escalated from unlawful possession of a weapon to homicide.”
Mullen pleaded guilty in 2018 to that unlawful use of a weapon charge for bringing an unloaded gun onto school grounds.
He was given probation in that case.
Additionally, Williams told the judge Mullen was captured on surveillance video firing multiple shots at Riley McCrackin.
In ruling in favor of Peterson’s motion to reduce Mullen’s bond from $250,000 full cash to $5,000 and house arrest, Jackson County Judge Jennifer Phillips said the case had “very concerning facts and actions."
And Judge Phillips offered a warning to Mullen who attended the hearing by video conference from the jail.
"I will tell you that the slightest violation on county house arrest will result in you being exactly where you are right now. Do you understand that, sir?” Judge Phillips questioned.
"Yes, your Honor," Mullen replied.
"And it won't be a $250,000 bond. It will be no bond," Judge Phillips added.
McCrackin's family finds all the differences between decisions disconcerting.
"And it's quite concerning, particularly someone who has had a prior conviction," Nussbeck said. "When we have an inconsistency from one defendant to the next, one is having to get out, one is having to stay in, actions must be consistent with measurable consequences."
"I can understand their outrage, I would say at this time, we maintain his innocence," Peterson said about Mullen.
The Missouri Supreme Court modified the state’s bond rules in 2019 to prevent suspects from being held in jail because they can’t afford bail.
"Though presumed innocent, they lose their jobs, cannot support their families, and are more likely to re-offend. We all share a responsibility to protect the public - but we also have a responsibility to ensure those accused of a crime are fairly treated according to the law and not their pocketbook," Missouri Supreme Court Judge Zel Fischer said about the change for criminal suspects.
While State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer didn’t specifically comment on the open Mullen case, he believes Missouri’s bond rules make it too easy for criminal suspects accused of violent crimes to be released from jail.
A 2020 I-Team report looked at that issue.
"My view is that we need to close the loophole on the catch and release of dangerous individuals,” Luetkemeyer said.
Luetkemeyer is the chair of the Missouri Senate Judiciary Committee.
He said it’s possible that reform of the state’s bond rules could be taken up by the General Assembly this session.
"I think it's no secret that much of the violent crime we're seeing in St. Louis and Kansas City is actually preventable if the people that are committing these offenses the first time were actually locked up and removed from the streets," Luetkemeyer said.
"It's concerning to our family, our friends, supporters, and I think the community at large doesn't realize this happens on a weekly basis," Nussbeck said.
However, according to Peterson, Mullen’s release from jail as he awaits trial has been without incident.
"So far he's done everything the court's asked, he's followed every order that the court has imposed,” Peterson said.
Court records also show Mackenzie Hyatt hasn’t violated her bond while she’s been out of jail awaiting trial.
It’s no consolation to Jenn Nussbeck, who said Riley McCrackin was the eldest of seven children in his family.
"He definitely was a leader. He has brothers and sisters and really held that big brother position really high. He expected a lot from them, he wanted the best for them as they were growing up and they really looked up to him,” she said.
The trials of Logan England, Mackenzie Hyatt, Tynan Mullen and Kaci Cox are scheduled in the coming days and months.