WASHINGTON – Steven Sandstrom, 23, and Gary L. Eye, 22, both of Kansas City, Mo., received multiple life sentences today for the racially-motivated murder of William McCay on March 9, 2005. The defendants were convicted on May 8, 2008. Today’s announcement was made jointly by 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.
“Acts of violence motivated by race and hate tear at the fabric of our communities and destroy our faith in the ability of people to transcend their differences,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Becker. “It is imperative that hate crimes, like the murder of Mr. McCay, are not tolerated by our society, and the Justice Department will do its part by committing to continue its vigorous prosecution of such abhorrent violent acts of hate.”
“The senseless, unprovoked murder of William McCay was an offense against the community,” said U.S. Attorney Wood. “We all have a stake in preserving the civil rights of our neighbors, including the right to walk freely and without fear down any public street, regardless of race. By sending these defendants to prison for the rest of their lives, the court today declared that racially motivated crimes will not be tolerated.”
Evidence presented at the trial proved 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 car with Eye in the front passenger seat. During the first attack, which occurred at 9th Street and Spruce in Kansas City, Eye fired Sandstrom’s .22-caliber revolver at McCay but missed him. McCay fled, but the defendants pursued him, driving around the block. At trial, it was determined McCay could have identified the defendants to law enforcement authorities, which motivated the two to continue pursuing the victim. When Eye and Sandstrom caught up with McCay, Eye got out of the vehicle and fatally shot him.
The jury found Eye and Sandstrom guilty of 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.
In addition, 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.