Prosecutor drops burglary charges against Hayes

Monday, June 30, 2008 | 8:23 p.m. CDT; updated 11:36 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — Boone County Chief Prosecutor Dan Knight dropped burglary charges Monday morning against convicted murderer Dwight Tyrell Hayes and combined sentencing hearings for two other incidents in which Hayes was involved.

Hayes, 21, was convicted of second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and armed criminal action by a Buchanan County jury on Thursday for the Nov. 24, 2007 slaying of Cynthia White, former Comfort Inn hotel manager.

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 rape and sodomy of a clerk at the same hotel on Nov. 15, 2007. The hotel was called the Fairfield Inn at the time.

Knight said he decided to drop the burglary charges because any sentencing that would have come from that case would pale in comparison with the charges from the other two incidents.

“I’m not saying the crime itself was insignificant, but the range of punishment — only adding 15 years — in the grand scheme of things is not important,” Knight said.

Knight said he would recommend that Hayes serve five consecutive life sentences and an additional 415 years.

“It’s not worth it on my resources to try him on a completely different case,” Knight said. “I’m moving on. I’ve expended my time to make sure Dwight Hayes never gets out of the penitentiary.”

Knight said the victims in the Nov. 13 burglary live in Kansas, and they told Knight they would prefer not to have to return to Columbia for a trial.

Knight also asked Circuit Judge Gene Hamilton to combine the dates of the sentencing hearings for the separate rape and murder incidents into one hearing on August 4. The sentencing hearing for the rape case was previously scheduled for July 18. Knight said he wanted to have the hearings for each incident at the same time for “judicial economy.”

“I plan on using several witnesses that would have relevant information in regard to sentencing for both cases,” he said.

Missourian reporter Jessica Petzel contributed to this report.

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