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Man convicted of Joplin murder feat in upcoming Netflix Crime Documentary

JOPLIN, Mo. (KOAM-TV 7) — Netflix is poised to release I Am a Killer Season 4 on December 21. The trailer is out and features Joplin, Missouri, convicted killer Gary Black.

This season features interviews with current inmates, some on Death Row, and their current situations according to a media release on the British Crime Documentary.

Gary W. Black was convicted twice in Jasper County Jury Trials of First Degree Murder and sentenced to Death for the 1998 stabbing of Jason Johnson at the intersection of 5th and S. Joplin Ave in Joplin.

Black’s girlfriend, Tammy Lawson, was upset because she believed Johnson had tried to make a pass at her while they were in line at Snak Attack, E. 4th and S. St. Louis. Johnson was black, Gary Black and his girlfriend, white.

Black followed the vehicle Johnson was riding in a short distance to Joplin’s Downtown Bar District. During an exchange of words Black exited his vehicle and reached inside fatally stabbing Johnson in the neck.

While during a third trial in 2010 just as a Cass County jury was being selected for a new trial, Black took a plea bargain, avoiding the death penalty by filing an Alford Plea (guilty plea in which a defendant maintains their innocence but admits that the prosecution’s evidence would likely result in a guilty verdict if brought to trial).

Black, now 72, is currently serving a life sentence at Potosi Correctional Center in Mineral Point, Mo.

The Netflix trailer shows Gary Black being wheeled out towards cameras in a wheelchair with chains and shackles in slow motion. Black’s voice is heard above the video.

“These guards will tell you, I live in an administrative segregation unit. Until just six months ago I was in isolation in a one man cell for almost two years. They don’t know what to do with me here, that’s right they don’t know what to do with me here. And I don’t care.”

Then images of other inmates interviewed for the series flash on the screen with ominous music.

State of Missouri vs. Gary W. Black

Missouri Supreme Court Case Number: SC82279

Case Facts: 

On the evening of October 2, 1998, Andrew Martin, Mark Wolfe and victim Jason O. Johnson met at a Joplin restaurant.

After eating dinner and drinking beer, they decided to go to a downtown nightclub. Martin and the victim got into Martin’s 1996 Ford F-150 pickup, while Wolfe followed in his Camaro.

En route, they stopped at a convenience store. Martin and Wolfe remained in their vehicles while the victim entered the store and purchased a 40-ounce bottle of beer and a can of chewing tobacco. While in line, the victim stood behind Tammy S. Lawson. The jury viewed a tape of the victim and Lawson together in line.

Lawson was the girlfriend of defendant Gary W. Black, who was also parked outside the store. When the victim exited the store, Lawson pointed him out to the defendant. (During the penalty phase, Lawson testified that she was upset and told defendant that the victim made “a pass” at her.)

The victim and Martin then left the store in the pickup, with Wolfe following in his Camaro. Defendant and Lawson were in defendant’s car, close behind the Camaro.

When Martin stopped at the stoplight at 5th and Joplin, defendant pulled alongside in the right lane. Defendant began to “exchange words” with the victim. Defendant got out of his car, reached through the passenger window of the pickup, and stabbed the victim in the neck, nearly severing his carotid artery and completely severing his jugular vein.

Defendant immediately returned to his car. Victim left the pickup, staggered over to defendant’s car, and threw the bottle of beer at him. It is unclear whether the bottle struck defendant. (It did become clear during penalty phase that leaving the scene, defendant commented, “One nigger down,” and threw the knife out the car window.) Defendant then fled to Oklahoma.

The stab wound — 4.5 to 6 inches deep — bled profusely. Bystanders attempted to slow the bleeding with clothing and towels. Paramedics arrived to find the victim unresponsive, from massive blood loss. Blood drained into the victim’s airway, depriving him of oxygen. The victim died three days later.

Defendant was arrested in Oklahoma on a Missouri warrant. During inventory, police found an empty knife sheath in his car. Based on a statement by Tammy Lawson, an officer found the knife in a grassy area near a cemetery, about 20 blocks from the crime scene.

After deliberating less then two hours, the jury found defendant guilty of first degree murder. The jury later recommended the death penalty, finding two statutory aggravators — prior serious assaultive convictions and depravity of mind. The trial court sentenced the defendant to death

I Am A Killer season 4 is set to release on December 21, 2022, and will be available for streaming on Netflix.

Stay with Joplin News First on KOAM News Now as we continue to cover news and stories where you live. Scroll below and sign up for our JLNews email list so you don’t miss an article.

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Jury finds Stephen Thompson guilty of first-degree murder

JOPLIN, Mo. – The jury finds Stephen Thompson guilty of first-degree murder, two counts of armed criminal action, and first-degree domestic assault.

He’s convicted of shooting and killing Carissa Gerard and critically injuring Kristina Dines (Thompson), his estranged wife at the time of the crime.

The defense argued for second-degree murder instead of first-degree murder. The jury reached the verdict this afternoon, Sept. 23, at 2:10 p.m. and was discharged at 2:19 p.m.

Stephen Thompson is no longer entitled to bond.

The court has scheduled potential sentencing for October 29, 2021, at 9:00 a.m.

Trial Day 4

On day four of the Stephen Thompson trial, both the State and Defense gave their closing arguments.

Prosecution

The State opened its final arguments with a quote from Thompson, “I can be your best friend or your worst enemy.” On June 9, 2015, the prosecutor argues, Thompson decided he was going to kill Kristina and Carissa. The prosecution says he slept on the decision at his mother’s where he knew he could get a gun. He asked her to wake him up early because he had somewhere to be. The State noted that he got off the turnpike realizing he needed to get ammo on the way to Joplin because he had none. When he arrived at the house and saw his estranged wife wasn’t there, he drove around Joplin for two hours waiting.

The prosecution’s closing remarks continued. When Kristina got home, he parked in front of the drive and walked up “calm, cool, and collected” as Thompson stated to police when he was questioned. The prosecutor pointed out that Thompson thought about killing the dogs in this way, but when he realized they were scared with their tails between their legs, he didn’t. The State told jurors that this was not a man in a crazed mindset, he was deliberate in his actions that he was going to kill the two women.

The prosecutor ended their final statement with a powerful video referring to their opening statement, “I can be your best friend or your worst enemy.” That quote was from interrogation between police and Thompson following the attack on his estranged wife and her new lover.

Defense

The defense then gave its closing statements. They started with the story of an assassination attempt made on Ronald Reagan by a man with schizophrenia and auditory hallucinations. The defense’s objective was to point out that even a man not in control of all his faculties has the ability to plan out an attack. Therefore, the defense argues, Thompson’s attack can not be deliberate because he wasn’t in control of himself. They say he had just been injured, lost his job and had money issues.

The defense argues that the Facebook post made by his ex, Kristina, sent him over the edge by saying she was now a lesbian and done with her ex. Thompson was quoted saying, “she was laying in my spot, and that pissed me off.” The defense believes the only reason he was so blunt and brutal in the way he spoke about the situation is because he is a macho type and unable to express his feelings in a healthy manner.

The defense ended by asking for second-degree murder instead of first-degree based on any reasonable doubt that he wasn’t completely sane.

The prosecution got a final rebuttal, saying, “We do not get to kill because life gets hard. We do not get to kill because our wife cheats on us.”

The jury started deliberating at 12:13 p.m.

Trial Day 3

The defense called several witnesses to the stand today. KOAM’s Derrick Knitig was in the courtroom.

You can read details here.

Trial Day 2 of Stephen Thompson

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021, was day two of the trial. KOAM’s Ty Parks is in the courtroom. Kristina Dines (formerly Thompson) took the stand as well as Detective Justin Barnett, who interviewed Stephen Thompson several times after the crime.

You can read more about day two of testimony here.

Trial Day 1 of Stephen Thompson

Representing the State is Theresa Kenney, Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney, and by Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys Kimberly Fisher and Michael Schafer.

Thompson appeared in the custody of the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department and with attorneys Thomas Jacquinot, Pat Berrigan, and Devon Passley.

Prosecutors announced that it was withdrawing its request for the death penalty. Around 10:03 a.m., a jury of 12 and two alternates took their seats. The court read them their opening instructions.

The State and Defense gave their opening statements.

The rest of day one consisted of the state presenting evidence against Thompson.

The Crime

On June 10th, 2015, Joplin police responded to 4215 W. 26th Place. They found Carissa Gerard dead and Kristina Thompson critically injured, both from gunshot wounds. Police arrested Stephen at the home.

According to court documents, Thompson drove more than 96 miles to get a twelve-gage shotgun. Authorities say he traveled directly to Grove, Oklahoma and bought ammunition for his gun. They allege he then went directly to 4215 W. 26th Place where he saw Carissa Gerard and shot her.

While at the home, court documents say Stephen Thompson then shot his estranged wife, Kristina Thompson, numerous times while she was fleeing from him. Emergency personnel took her to the hospital in critical condition. She survived her wounds.

Documents listed the Thompsons and Gerard all three living at that address at the time of the crime. In 2015, authorities told KOAM and FOX 14 that they believed the incident was the result of an estranged relationship between husband and wife.

Stephen Thompson’s Criminal History

Authorities say Stephen Thompson has a history of criminal violence. Records show he had served prison time for writing bad checks and was on parole after 2006. Authorities have investigated multiple reports of violence in the home, including a case in 2013 when Stephen Thompson allegedly choked his wife and stabbed her half-brother.

Previous Articles on Stephen Thompson

Missouri crime updates can be found on Missouri Case Net.

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Prosecution plays Stephen Thompson interviews of Joplin murder

JOPLIN, Mo. – A jury continues to hear arguments in a 2015 Joplin murder case against Stephen Thompson. The prosecution says he shot and killed Carissa Gerard and critically injured Kristina Thompson, his estranged wife. At the time of the crime, Gerard and Kristina were in a relationship.

According to court documents, the prosecutor’s office charged Stephen Randell Thompson with first-degree murder, first-degree domestic assault and two counts of armed criminal action.

Trial Day 2 of Stephen Thompson

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021, is day two of the trial. KOAM’s Ty Parks is in the courtroom. The defense is arguing for second-degree murder instead of first-degree murder.

Kristina Dines (formerly Thompson) took the stand this morning, reliving the day. KOAM spoke with her in 2017. You can read her story here: Special Report: A Survivor’s Story.

The defense filed a motion to restrict statements made by Thomspon during a previous court appearance on September 5th, 2019. During that previous trial, he stated that he sat out to do what he sat out to do – to execute those girls. According to the defense today, those statements showed his emotional state years later, not his emotional state the night of the crime.

The court allowed Thompson’s statements into the trial.

Prosecutors called Justin Barnett to the stand to testify. At the time of the crime, he was a detective with the Joplin Police Department. He interviewed Thompson a few hours after the crime. During his time on the stand, Barnett showed the jury how a single shotgun was used.

The defense cross-examined Barnett, looking at the interviews he had with Thompson following the shooting.

According to KOAM’s Ty Parks, Kristina was in the courtroom and there were lots of tears when attorneys played the interviews involving Thompson and Detective Barnett. One of the interviews was at the police department, one was during a walk-through at the crime scene, and statements from a previous court appearance were also played.

Thompson spoke to the detective about events the day before and after the crime. Barnett also answered the defense’s questions concerning Thompson’s demeanor during the interview. Barnett says he was calm and his demeanor only changed when he was talking about his son.

Kristina and Stephen had a son together. In March of 2015, the couple’s one-year-old son was taken from the home because of suspicions the parents were using meth in the home. Kristina’s older son, Tyler, also lived at the home. He was there the day of the crime. Stephen was his stepfather.

During the interview at the crime scene between Detective Barnett and Thompson, Thompson said he would rather his son go into foster care.

Parks says Thompson has not looked back at anyone watching the trial. He laughs and jokes with his defense team during breaks.

The State continued playing statements made by Thompson. On September 5, 2019, Thompson made a statement that he did what he did, he has no remorse, and that he would do it again.

The State then rested.

Day three of the trial will begin tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.

Trial Day 1 of Stephen Thompson

Representing the State is Theresa Kenney, Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney, and by Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys Kimberly Fisher and Michael Schafer.

Thompson appeared in the custody of the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department and with attorneys Thomas Jacquinot, Pat Berrigan, and Devon Passley.

Prosecutors announced that it was withdrawing its request for the death penalty. Around 10:03 a.m., a jury of 12 and two alternates was seated and sworn in. The court read them their opening instructions.

The State and Defense gave their opening statements.

The rest of day one consisted of the state presenting evidence against Thompson.

The Crime

On June 10th, 2015, Joplin police responded to 4215 W. 26th Place. They found Carissa Gerard dead and Kristina Thompson critically injured, both from gunshot wounds. Police arrested Stephen at the home.

According to court documents, Thompson drove more than 96 miles to get a twelve-gage shotgun. Authorities say he traveled directly to Grove, Oklahoma and bought ammunition for his gun. They allege he then went directly to 4215 W. 26th Place where he saw Carissa Gerard and shot her.

While at the home, court documents say Stephen Thompson then shot his estranged wife, Kristina Thompson, numerous times while she was fleeing from him. Emergency personnel took her to the hospital in critical condition. She survived her wounds.

Documents listed the Thompsons and Gerard all three living at that address at the time of the crime. In 2015, authorities told KOAM and FOX 14 that they believed the incident was the result of an estranged relationship between husband and wife.

Stephen Thompson’s Criminal History

Authorities say Stephen Thompson has a history of criminal violence. Records show he had served prison time for writing bad checks and was on parole after 2006. Authorities have investigated multiple reports of violence in the home, including a case in 2013 when Stephen Thompson allegedly choked his wife and stabbed her half-brother.

Previous Articles on Stephen Thompson

Missouri crime updates can be found at https://www.courts.mo.gov/.