ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — A man was found guilty Thursday in connection with the death of a woman whose body was found inside a duffel bag alongside a road in Missouri weeks after she was killed.
Marcus Brooks was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Ariel Starcher, 21, according to the St. Joseph News-Press. Starcher was a mother of two from Independence, Missouri.
Starcher’s body was found inside a bag by a Missouri Transporation Department worker, The Associated Press reported. It was found in February 2020 about 45 miles north of Kansas City. Starcher died from suffocation and also had a broken neck.
Starcher’s grandfather, Jim Starcher, told the Kansas City Star he was worried about, according to the AP.
“She was trying to change her life, get her life straightened out. But it’s just one step forward and four steps back,” he said.
Brooks’ accomplice, Taylor Stoughton, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder last year and she provided key testimony against Brooks, the AP said.
Brooks and Stoughton were arrested about a year after the murder in 2021, according to the AP.
The defense reportedly argued that Stoughton suffocated Starcher and that Brooks helped to dispose of the body, the AP reported. Buchanan County Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Davidson claimed that Brooks’ NDA was found under Starcher’s nails and she argued that Starcher had been killed while she tried to fight her attacker.
“It’s been a long week, but we’re extremely grateful to the sheriff’s office for the long hours and hard work they put in on this case. They definitely helped us secure the verdict,” Buchanan County Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Davidson said in a post-trial interview, according to the St. Joseph News-Press. “I also am grateful to my entire office. They are hardworking, they are behind me 100%. We continue to support the victims of this county and are willing to try cases that need to be tried in order to make sure that justice is secured.”
Stoughton is expected to be sentenced on Nov. 20. According to the AP, Brooks is expected to be sentenced on Dec. 21.