A Platte County jury has found Zakary F. Mergy, of Kansas City, Kansas, guilty of murder in the first degree and armed criminal action for the November 2014 murder of Francisco Vargas III. The jury reached its verdict on September 19, following a seven-day jury trial.
Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said, “In this case, the State never alleged the defendant fired the shots that killed the victim. Instead, we presented extensive evidence proving the defendant aided and assisted another person in planning and carrying out the murder. This was a textbook case of accomplice liability.”
Evidence at trial showed that on November 1, 2014, a family member of Vargas found him lying face down on the floor of his residence in a large pool of blood. Platte County Sheriff’s Department deputies later determined Vargas had been shot several times, finding eight .40 caliber shell casings near his body.
A neighbor reported seeing a gray vehicle at Vargas’ residence on the day he was shot. Investigators later determined that a 2008 gray Dodge Charger reportedly seen at the house was registered to a relative of Mergy.
Forensic analysis of a cell phone belonging to Mergy’s revealed deleted text messages during the time frame of the homicide. A special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cellular Analysis Survey Team testified that Mergy’s phone was in the Northland utilizing cell towers in close proximity of Vargas’ residence at the time of murder. Mergy had earlier told investigators he was in Kansas City, Kansas at that time.
Mergy was interviewed on multiple occasions regarding Vargas’ death. He eventually admitted he knew Vargas was killed with a Springfield .40 caliber XDM handgun. He told investigators that he had been given the gun by someone following the murder and that he wrapped the gun in several plastic bags before burying it in his mother’s back yard.
Investigators recovered a Springfield .40 caliber XDM handgun from Mergy’s mother’s back yard. Forensic analysts with the Kansas City Police Department Crime Lab determined the cartridge cases and bullets recovered at the crime scene were from that gun. DNA test results on the gun, trigger and magazine showed Mergy as the major contributor.
During the execution of a search warrant at Mergy’s residence, investigators found a jar that a witness said he had seen at Vargas’ residence two days before Vargas’ murder.
Because he was convicted of first degree murder, Mergy must serve a sentence of life in prison without the eligibility of probation or parole. Jurors also recommended Mergy be sentenced to 30 years in prison for armed criminal action. He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 30 at 10:00 a.m.
Zahnd said, “This defendant told lie after lie after lie to investigators. However, determined work by investigators and state-of-the-art crime fighting techniques allowed us to punch holes through all those lies. This defendant might not have pulled the trigger, but he aided and encouraged the murder and deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison.”
The case was investigated by the Platte County Sheriff’s Department, the Kansas City Metro Squad, the Kansas City Police Department Crime Laboratory and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by First Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Mark Gibson and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Hannah Herring.
A photo of Mergy is above. If you need additional information, please contact our office’s media liaison, Tanya Faherty.
Eric G. Zahnd
Platte County Prosecuting Attorney
415 Third Street, Suite 60
Platte City, Missouri 64079
(816) 858-3472 (fax)