By Lee’s Summit Tribune Staff

Nicholas Webb
Nicholas Webb

On May 10, Nicholas M. Webb, 59, of Pleasant Hill was charged with Second Degree Murder and Armed Criminal action in the May 6 fatal stabbing of Cody M. Harter, 23, of St. Joseph. The incident was incited by road rage on the roadside of M-291 in the vicinity of I-470 and Colbern Road where Lee’s Summit Police responded to a call about a man stumbling in traffic at 7:30 pm on Saturday. They found Harter with a large wound to his chest, collapsed in the inner median where he was pronounced dead at the scene. Harter’s maroon 2003 Chevrolet Silverado truck with a zero-turn lawn mower in the bed was parked nearby undamaged.

Surveillance video of the victim’s and the suspect’s vehicles and witnesses to the apparent altercation between two men on the roadside of the heavily traveled highway led police detectives to Webb. The suspect vehicle was seen fleeing north on I-470. They later learned Webb had been arrested on the same day of the homicide in Liberty. Information from that police report indicated he was carrying a knife.

On Wednesday, Lee’s Summit police took the defendant into custody. Webb told police that he had exchanged words with a driver of a truck who he said looked familiar and acknowledged getting out of his vehicle.

At the press conference on Thursday, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker promised the family that this police chief with this trial team would fight hard for justice even in the years to come. She commended the great police work in this case that could have easily gone unsolved.

“It’s a sad day for a family but it’s also a day where we need to acknowledge really good police work,” said Baker.

Baker also addressed media reports about Webb not serving his entire 35-year sentence for a 1981 Second Degree murder conviction during a time when the law did not require a certain percentage of time must be served.

“What we call the 85% rule that came later in time,” said Baker.”In essence he served almost day for day his entire sentence. He just did so a little bit broken up and he was released initially after doing about 15 years of that original 35-year sentence that he received because, as I said, that 85% rule was not in play yet, it did not, that law did not yet exist. So that maybe explains a little bit of his background and how we are here to day.”

Chief Travis Forbes expressed great pride in the investigative team who starting working tirelessly at the onset of the homicide investigation, not seeing their families for days in order to solve this crime of a military veteran.

Cody Harter and his Best Friend
Cody Harter and his Best Friend

“I want to say something about this City…This is a community that exemplifies ‘if you see, say something.’ We had numerous people come forward with eyewitness accounts, with video footage that they recorded from their businesses or personal houses. Everyone wanted to help in this case but honestly we’re kind of accustomed to that,” said Forbes. “We work hand-in-hand with our citizens and the people here just don’t tolerate crime so they were very instrumental in this case and working to solve it.”

Cody Michael Harter was a loadmaster in the Missouri Air National Guard who served in Iraq and Qatar, who helped with the hurricanes in Houston and Puerto Rice, who had one more semester left until he graduated with an engineering technology degree, who had a lawn care business and who was a novice dirt bike racer.

Cody Harter had plans to marry the love of his life.

“He was not just a number. He was a person. He’s my love. He knew love from all this. He knew adventure. He knew kindness and now all we know is pain and loss,” said Harter’s mother. “I keep waiting for someone to tell me that it’s not true. That I’m going to wake up from this but I’m not.”