Department of Justice SealDepartment of Justice
Monday, May 19, 2008
(202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888

Two Kansas City, Missouri, Men to be Sentenced to Life in Prison for Racially Motivated Murder

WASHINGTON – Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and John F. Wood, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a federal jury has returned special verdicts for two Kansas City, Mo., men who were convicted in the racially motivated murder of William McCay on March 9, 2005. The jury returned special verdicts which will result in the imposition of sentences of life imprisonment for Steven Sandstrom, 22, and Gary L. Eye, 21, both of Kansas City, Mo. The jury reached its sentencing verdict for Sandstrom on May 16, 2008, and for Eye on May 12, 2008.

Evidence presented during the trial indicated that Eye and Sandstrom were involved in two separate attacks against McCay while he was walking to work at about 6 a.m. on March 9, 2005. Sandstrom was driving a stolen 2003 Dodge Intrepid with Eye in the front passenger seat. In the first incident, which occurred at 9th Street and Spruce in Kansas City, Eye fired Sandstrom’s .22-caliber revolver at McCay but missed him. Sandstrom drove around the block looking for McCay, who could have identified them to law enforcement authorities. When they caught up with McCay at 9th Street and Brighton, Eye got out of the vehicle and fatally shot him. The capital charges are related to the second, fatal attack against McCay.

The jury’s special verdict concludes the criminal trial, in which both were found guilty, on May 8, 2008, of shooting and killing McCay because of his race and because he was using a public street. Eye and Sandstrom were also found guilty of shooting and killing McCay in order to prevent him from communicating information about the attack to a federal law enforcement officer. In addition, Eye and Sandstrom were convicted of two counts of aiding and abetting one another to use or discharge a firearm during a crime of violence, resulting in the murder of McCay.

“We hope that the jury’s guilty verdict provides the McCay family some sense of comfort,” said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Our thoughts and prayers remain with them.”

“I am very grateful to the trial team for their outstanding work in this case and to the jury for their careful consideration,” said U.S. Attorney Wood. “As a result of the jury's verdict, the individuals who committed this horrible crime will never be free again. While there is no way that we can ease the pain that the victim's family and loved ones feel, we hope that they find some measure of justice in these convictions. We will continue to aggressively prosecute hate crimes.”

In addition to the capital charges, Eye and Sandstrom were each found guilty of one count of aiding and abetting one another to destroy a stolen vehicle with the intent to impede or obstruct the possible investigation of a federal offense – along with one count of using fire to commit a felony offense. Eye was also found guilty on an additional count of interfering with federally protected activities (related to the first, non-fatal attack) and an additional count of using or discharging a firearm during and in relation to that crime of violence. Sandstrom was also found guilty of threatening to cause bodily injury to a cooperating government witness to retaliate against the witness for cooperating with law enforcement authorities.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David M. Ketchmark and D. Michael Green and Eric L. Gibson, trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department.