COLUMBIA — The trial of a man charged with the robbery and murder of a Comfort Inn hotel manager began Tuesday in Buchanan County with jury selection.
The jury is expected to begin hearing the case in Boone County Circuit Court Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. It took until mid-afteroon Tuesday to pick the jury.
Nov. 13: A man attempts to rob a Kansas family staying at the Hampton Inn at 3410 Clark Lane. Brian Plattner slams the door when the man displays a gun and demands money. Nov. 15: A man robs and sexually assaults a female clerk at the Fairfield Inn at 2904 Clark Lane. Nov. 19: The Fairfield Inn changes its name to the Comfort Inn. Nov. 24: Guests become concerned when no one answers the phone at the front desk at the Comfort Inn and call police. Cynthia White, general manager of the hotel, is found dead at about 6:15 a.m. Saturday with a gunshot wound to the head. Nov. 25: Police arrest Hayes in connection with the death of Cynthia White. Police also charge Hayes with the attempted robbery at the Hampton Inn as well as the robbery and sexual assault at the Fairfield Inn. April 28: Hayes pleads guilty to charges in connection with the rape and robbery that occurred Nov. 15.
Dwight T. Hayes, 21, is accused of shooting Cynthia White, general manager of the Comfort Inn at 2904 Clark Lane. The incident was the last in a three-crime spree involving Clark Lane hotels that began Nov. 13 and ended Nov. 24, 2007.
The first incident on Nov. 13 was a burglary at the Hampton Inn, 3410 Clark Lane, during which Hayes allegedly knocked on a guest’s door, asked to borrow an ice bucket and tried to force his way into the room.
The second incident occurred on Nov. 15 at the same hotel as the slaying, though it was called the Fairfield Inn at the time. In that incident, Columbia police said Hayes robbed a hotel clerk and then raped and sodomized her before stealing her car.
A bit of surveillance video from the attempted burglary at the Hampton Inn led police to Hayes. The video image was released to the media and prompted a call to CrimeStoppers. The caller identified the person in the video as Hayes, and he was arrested on Nov. 25 at a relative’s house on McKee Street. A handgun and ammunition found during the arrest were gathered as evidence, police said. Hayes also made incriminating statements about White’s slaying during the investigation, police said.
On Monday, a trial date of July 1 was set on the burglary charge from the Hampton Inn incident.
In April, Hayes pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery, forcible sodomy, forcible rape, four counts of armed criminal action, first-degree robbery and first-degree tampering in connection with the Nov. 15 rape. He is scheduled to be sentenced in that crime on July 18.