Man sentenced to life in prison for death of firefighters wants sentence overturned

Feb 15, 2017 KMBC 9 News by Michael Mahoney

A man convicted of setting the fire that led to one of Kansas City's biggest and most deadly explosions wants his prison sentence overturned.

Wednesday in court Bryan Sheppard got the chance to tell a judge why he should be released.

Sheppard is one of five people convicted of setting a shed of explosives on fire at a construction site near 87th Street and U.S. Highway 71 back in 1988. The massive blast that resulted killed six firefighters answering the call.

That fire was so intense you could hardly recognize the destroyed fire rigs.

Sheppard was 17-years-old at the time. He was sentenced to life in prison for the crime.

But the Supreme Court has since ruled minors can't be sentenced to life.

Cassandra McKarrin was 17 at the time of the explosion as well. She opposes Sheppard's release. Her father, Robert McKarrin, was one of the six firefighters that died.

"Today we are just very hopeful the judge takes into consideration the magnitude of this crime," said McKarrin.

Sheppard, now a middle-aged man, is hoping that Supreme Court ruling will help shorten his sentence - or free him for the 20 years he's already served.

Defense experts describe Sheppard as a reckless 17-year-old back when those crimes were committed.

"It doesn't change the fact this his crime was devastating to everyone involved," said McKarrin.

Newspaper web design