For Immediate Release:
Dec. 12, 2018
Joseph Wyatt, 29, was found guilty today in Jackson County Circuit Court in the robbery and kidnapping of 82-year-old Billy Fowler. Judge Jack R. Grate handed down his verdict today in the case that also saw Independence Police Officer Tom Wagstaff suffer a gunshot wound while engaging the defendant during the commission of the crimes.
Defendant was found guilty of eight felony counts including: Robbery in the First Degree, two counts of Armed Criminal Action. Burglary, Kidnapping, Resisting Arrest, Attempted Robbery, and Tampering with a Motor Vehicle. With these convictions, defendant faces life in prison plus 62 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. On the sole acquittal count of Assault in the First Degree on a Law Enforcement Officer, the Prosecutor's Office respects the judge's verdict.
After the Court handed down his verdict, Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker was in the courtroom and was able to witness Officer Wagstaff - whose injuries from that day forced him to medically retire from law enforcement - and victim Billy Fowler meet for the first time. In recounting that meeting, Jean Peters Baker:
"After the verdict was announced by the Judge, the victim of the robbery thanked Officer Wagstaff for his service to him on that fateful day. It was a touching moment to witness and a reminder of the great sacrifice paid by law enforcement officers to keep us safe."
Many members of the Independence Police Department were present in the courtroom for closing argument and the verdict, in support of Officer Wagstaff.
Sentencing in the case is set for February 25, 2019, at 1:30pm.
For more information, contact:
Jared D. Bustamante
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney
Jackson County Prosecutor's Office
Jean Peters Baker, Prosecutor