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E-mail used as evidence to convict murderer in KC

June 9, 2001

Kansas City, Mo. — A Kansas City man convicted of killing his girlfriend's foster daughter, is believed to be the first area man found guilty of murder through the use of key e-mail evidence.

A Jackson County jury on Thursday found Michael Members, 35, guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Cherita Ray, 21. The only possible sentence for the murder is life without parole.

Jurors recommended 40 years for armed criminal action — 10 years for each of the four shots Members fired into Ray's head and neck.

There was no dispute at trial that Members shot Ray on Feb. 18, 2000, pulled her out of the car and left her by the road at a lover's lane area in Swope Park. Then he drove her car to a parking lot, left it and went home to celebrate his birthday with Ray's foster mother.

A motorist found Ray. She died Feb. 21 at a hospital.

But Members had claimed initially that he was not having an affair with Ray and that he was not with Ray the night of the shooting.

Then police recovered e-mail messages from her computer at the Overland Park, Kan., company where she worked. They told otherwise.

When police interrogated Members, he told them they argued and she pulled a gun. He took it from her, stepped outside the car and shot her.

But at trial Members said he and Ray struggled inside the car and the gun accidentally went off four times.

The Associated Press, Copyright © 2001, the Lawrence Journal-World


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