KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City woman is facing charges after being accused of killing her wife.
Jenna Nava was killed at the end of January. The Kansas City, Missouri Police Department said Makayla Smith, 30, shot and killed her wife, Jenna Nava, 35, at close range while Nava’s daughters were close by.
Nava’s family said they were not aware Nava and Smith were legally married until after she was killed. Court documents lay out a violent end to Nava’s days with Smith. The pair were married only months before investigators say Smith showed up at Nava’s apartment and killed her.
“She’s going to get her justice,” Jenna’s sister, Julie Nava said.
The Nava family said they are relieved after Smith was charged and arrested in her killing.
“I felt a sense of relief. It felt good that she was behind bars and not running free or hiding,” Jenna’s brother, Johnny Nava said.
Nava died after she was shot on January 25. Police say they were called to her apartment around 10 p.m. She lived in the Reserve South Point Apartments near E 87th St. & Blue Ridge Blvd. Investigators say three of Nava’s daughters were home at the time of the alleged killing. With one of them being a witness to a violent confrontation.
“That’s what we think of the most, the girls, because they’re going to miss out on so much of her because she was amazing,” Julie Nava said.
Nava and Smith were married in September of 2021. In December, after 70 days of marriage, Smith filed for divorce against Nava and asked Jackson County Judge Sarah Castle to issue an ex-parte against her. However, court documents show Smith showed violence against Nava on more than one occasion.
Castle is the same judge overseeing Nava’s homicide case.
“All Jenna wanted to do was get her help. Even after everything they’d gone through my sister wanted to get her help with her anger,” Jenna Nava said.
Nava’s daughter spoke with police after her mother was killed. She told police she was at home when she “heard someone messing with the door” and saw their doorknob jiggle. The girl went to Nava’s room to wake her mother up not knowing who was at the door. The girl told police while her mother got dressed she went to the kitchen and grabbed a knife.
She told police Nava went to the door and asked who was there. A voice she knew to be her mother’s wife said “me.” The girl told police that’s when she handed her mother the knife, and her mother opened the door. Smith was there along with an unknown woman.
Nava made sure both women knew she was armed with the knife. The girl says the second woman told her mother “I’m not scared of no knife” and chest bumped her. The girl says her mother told her to go into another room with her two sisters, shut the door, and call police.
The teen girl went to get the phone and on her way to the room she told investigators she saw Smith pull a handgun out of her hoodie and hold it against her mother’s neck. The girl ran into the room with her sisters and heard the gun go off. She called 911 and stayed on the phone with police until they arrived.
Investigators also interviewed one of Nava’s daughters under 10 who corroborated her sister’s statement. She told her interviewer her and her younger sister hid in the bedroom waiting for her teen sister.
“It hurts. It hurts. It brings me anger, pain. I feel bad for the babies. I feel bad for Jenna because Jenna would have never done anything like that to anyone,” close friend of Jenna’s Shabrielle Law said.
Nava’s family says the girls are currently in therapy after what they experienced and are safe, but deeply miss their mother.
“She took away everything, all of our love we have for her. Her children love her. All she did was take care of her kids and they’re not going to be able to see her, and love on her. She took a lot,” close friend Jasmine Burris said.
The second woman was also arrested by KCPD and questioned about Nava’s death. She told police Smith went to Nava’s apartment for police to serve a protection order to her. However, Smith approached Nava’s third story apartment without police. The woman told police Smith told her Nava texted her at some point and told her she missed and loved her and Smith decided she wanted to talk to Nava.
The woman told police Smith and Nava fought over the knife and she broke up the fight. The woman alleges Nava held the knife to Smith’s neck. She told police Smith pulled out the gun and Nava struck her arm which caused the gun to accidentally go off. The witness said the gunshot scared her and she ran out of the apartment. She told police Smith also ran out shortly after and they left in separate cars.
While the witness said the gun accidentally went off investigators found something different. The Jackson County Medical Examiner told police they believe when the gun was fired it was pressed against the victim’s skin. Soot and an imprint of the gun were found in their examination. They told police it is possible a layer of clothing could have been between the gun and her skin.
“Justice for Jenna,” Burris said.
Other allegations of violence
Nava’s family believe Smith was stalking Nava. They say they were aware of instances where Smith would take her keys and wallet away from her. They also say Nava lost a job due to Smith’s behavior.
In court documents, Nava’s teen daughter says in another incident Smith attempted to shoot Nava in the foot in their primary bedroom. The girl says the fired round missed her mother and went into the closet. When crime scene investigators went through the home they found a bullet consistent with the girl’s story.
Police executed a warrant on Smith’s online texting service after Nava’s death. They found information on an incident from January 21, days before Nava’s alleged killing. There were messages between Smith and the second woman who was a witness to Nava’s death. Smith sent messages to the woman saying that she was with Nava at Longview Lake and were in the middle of an argument.
By text Smith allegedly told the woman “I’ve got the gun to her head right now,” “She’s in my car baby I’m about to shoot her I’m so tired,” and a third message of, “I’m finna shoot her.”
“It’s just baffling that somebody that truly loved her at one point in time could do that,” Julie Nava said.
KCPD said they were able to find four instances where 911 was called regarding Smith retrieving her items from the apartment.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%. They also say 89% of victims who where physically assaulted before their murder were also stalked in the year prior.
The Rose Brooks center says they know from their work with survivors a common form of coercive control used by abusers is to use the criminal and civil justice system against them. However, there is no solid data on coercive control by using the criminal justice system.
They say this is a reason we focus so much of our systems advocacy and community training on how to recognize the different forms of coercion.
Smith is being held at the Jackson County Detention Center. She will be back in court April 21, for a bond reduction hearing. Smith is being held on a $250,000.00 bond and if released would be placed on house arrest.
If you are a victim of domestic violence and need help there are resources for you. The Rose Brooks Center has a 24-hour help line at 816-861-6100. They also have a page dedicated to resources on how to safely leave an abusive relationship.
If you need immediate assistance and are located outside of the Greater Kansas City Area, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-(SAFE) (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224. Or receive online assistance at www.thehotline.org