BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - On February 23, 2017, Police Chief Lyle Martin stood before cameras trying to process what led to the murder of a 5-year-old boy. It would be days before police identified the victim, Kason Guyton.
On the night of February 23rd, Guyton was riding in the backseat of a car alongside his 7-year-old brother B.J. when bullets flew. Their mother’s boyfriend Dayvon Vercher was driving, a documented member of the East Side Crips. Seconds after the shooting Vercher realized his girlfriend’s children had been shot, rushing the two brothers to Kern Medical. B.J. survived but Kason was fatally shot.
In the months following his murder, community leaders begged the city to put the guns down and bring Guyton’s killer to justice.
Months flew by and there was still no justice for Guyton.
A reward for any information leading to the arrest of his killer reached $20,000 contributed by the FBI, local law enforcement, organizations, and businesses.
As Guyton's family mourned, his father, Bryan posted on Facebook that he forgave his son’s killer.
All was quiet in the case until December of 2017 when police launched a 10-month investigation into the West Side Crips gang. It was an interagency sweep resulting in the arrests if over 30 suspected gang members. Police believe the West Side territory is believed to be responsible for the killing of Kason Guyton.
Police identified who they call the three blind mice as primary suspects in Guyton's murder. According to police 27-year-old Johnathan Knight goes by the nickname "Lil Mice", 25-year-old Jeremy King as "baby mice" and 24-year-old Skylor Billings is "tiny mice".
All three were picked up during the interagency sweep on unrelated charges, but Knight and King have since bailed out. Billings is still in custody, in connection with another homicide.
The case is still under investigation and neither Knight, King or Billings have been charged with Guyton's murder.
In an interview with 23ABC in December of 2017, Chief Martin said he’s still at a lost for words over the death of Guyton.
"What do I tell this mother and grandmother or this 7-year-old brother how do I explain that? That’s my role as the police chief to explain why things happen and I didn't have an explanation and I just couldn't live with that," Martin said.