Two charged in Shelby County shooting

Kenneth Spencer and Kwane Morris (Courtesy Shelby County Sheriff's Department)
Kenneth Spencer and Kwane Morris (Courtesy Shelby County Sheriff's Department)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Two teens accused killing a man with a stay bullet last weekend appeared in court Friday for the first time since being charged with first degree murder.

Kwane Morris and Kenneth Spencer made their first appearance in criminal court by video teleconference Friday.

The two teenagers are charged with the first degree murder of 55-year-old John Anthony Baker, who was struck by a stray bullet last weekend while inside his home.

"There was an ongoing dispute between a group of men and that was going on there earlier in the evening about 11 o'clock," Shelby County Sheriff's Department spokesperson Steve Shular said.

Baker was not involved in that dispute, but investigators say Morris and Spencer were at the Pinnacle Point Subdivision firing shots last Friday night when one of the bullets went through a window of Baker's home and killed him.

The young men charged with his murder are barely old enough to be tried as adults, but their criminal records in the juvenile justice system suggest there were warning signs.

Morris, 19, was still a minor when he was charged with aggravated burglary and vandalism.  Spencer, 18, was underage when he was arrested for burglary theft of property, truancy, and forgery.

Now, both young adults are charged with the murder of an innocent man who got caught in the crossfire - gunshots that caught the attention of Baker's neighbors, who called the sheriff's department.

"By the time deputies got there, as often is the case when they don't have a victim, there was no one there, and the deputies cleared the scene and went on," Shular said.

What they didn't know was that Baker was already lying dead inside his home, and the suspects now charged with his death were living just a few blocks away.

Kwane Morris was arrested last month after he was caught driving on a suspended license.  He was supposed to appear in court on that charge later this month.

Instead he and Spencer will be back in court in December to enter a plea on the charge of first degree murder.