Marcus Haislip III was riding in a child's car seat when a gunman fired on the vehicle in 2017

By Jeff Truesdell
February 19, 2021 12:38 PM
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Marcus Haislip III
| Credit: Jackson County Prosecutor

Marcus Haislip III died from a bullet that struck him in his child's car seat as he rode through Kansas City, Missouri, with his father and uncle.

But for nearly four years, the 3-year-old's May 2017 shooting death resulted in no criminal charges -- until this week.

Witnesses at the time reported seeing a man in a red hooded sweatshirt fire a long gun at the vehicle from a porch on Park Avenue, according to a statement from Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker.

The adults, who were also hit by bullets, survived, reports Fox4KC, but the child was dead by the time he was rushed to a hospital.

One witness said the description of the shooter sounded like Derrick D. Wren Jr., who had been seen with a similar gun. Police recovered multiple shell casings as well as a Styrofoam cup from the scene.

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In 2019, detectives learned that DNA from the cup matched Wren's. In September and November of 2020, they heard from new witnesses that Wren allegedly had confessed to the fatal shooting, using a 7.62 millimeter pistol with a 30- to 50-round clip, according to the prosecutor's office.

On Wednesday, the prosecutor charged Wren, 28, with second-degree murder, unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of first-degree assault.

Marcus Haislip III
| Credit: Jackson County Prosecutor

"This little guy paid a really big price with his life, for something that there's no good explanation for, why Marcus is not with us today," Baker said in a virtual news conference.

She shared a statement from the boy's mother that read: "Marcus was my third child, such a sweetheart. He loved his family. He loved music. His older brother and sister missed him every day and my grandmother took it very hard. She brings him up daily."

The boy's father, Marcus Haislip Jr., is facing charges of first-degree assault, armed criminal action and unlawful possession of a firearm after authorities say he allegedly fired in 2019 at the suspect in his son's murder in an act of retaliation, Fox4KC reported previously. He remains in the Jackson County Detention Center, according to online jail records, which do not indicate whether he's entered a plea or has an attorney to speak for him.

Wren was being held in federal custody with prosecutors seeking a $250,000 cash bond for his release, according to Baker's office. An attorney for Wren was not immediately identified.