RILEY COUNTY, Kan. (WIBW) -- A trial date has been set in the case of a teenager accused of killing his fellow Manhattan High School classmate.
Cole Drake, 15, was arraigned in Riley County District Court Monday afternoon before Judge David Stutzman, who did not allow cameras in the courtroom.
Drake pleaded not guilty to charges of First Degree Murder and Aggravated Robbery at his arraignment.
Last month, Judge Stutzman ruled in favor of the state’s motion to prosecute Drake as an adult for the murder of 14-year-old Tyler Dowling in Manhattan last April. The decision came after a two-day certification/authorization hearing on February 2-3, 2012, during which Riley County officers testified that Drake confessed to the deadly shooting during an interrogation and led officers to the murder weapon.
Tyler Dowling’s body was found in a field in the 500 block of Walters Drive in Manhattan on April 13, 2011 near Eisenhower Middle School. Dowling had been shot twice. Riley County officers said a spent .22 caliber shell casing and a live .22 caliber round were found in the field.
Police say Cole Drake was the last known person seen with Tyler Dowling. The teens snuck out of their houses and were breaking into cars together or “car hopping” late at night on April 12, 2011 when the deadly shooting occurred, according to investigators. Drake was questioned by Riley County detectives at the Riley County Police Department on April 14, 2011, the day after Dowling’s body was discovered.
A recorded confession Drake gave police was played in court during the certification hearing last month. In the video, Drake said that Tyler Dowling and another friend named Patrick Goodman had been fighting and he thought he owed it to Goodman to kill Dowling and wanted to look tough. Drake claimed he didn’t want to kill Dowling but thought that he had to because his allegiance was more with Goodman. Patrick “DD” Goodman was not present when the shooting happened. In the recorded statement, Drake went on to say that he started walking slower across the field, behind Dowling, and pulled out the gun and shot him. As Dowling was bent over holding his head and trying to stand up and walk away, Drake says he shot him again in the side because he was scared Dowling was going to tell someone what he’d done and Drake saw no other way out of the situation. Drake says he ran away, throwing Dowling’s cell phone into a nearby pond because it was ringing at the time and tossing the gun under a shed at the Manhattan Baptist Church on Tuttle Street. He also said he washed his clothes when he got home to get rid of any gunshot residue and threw his sneakers away- all because he didn’t want to go to jail. In the recorded interrogation, Drake said that he usually carried a gun when he went car hopping but that Dowling never knew he was armed because he never let anyone see the weapon.
Drake's attorney, Brenda Jordan, has countered the state’s position that the shooting was premeditated, saying Dowling was the one who contacted Drake that night through Xbox to go car hopping and that Drake had no intention of meeting up with Dowling prior to that.
In his order authorizing the state to charge Drake as an adult, Judge Stutzman called Dowling’s death a “calculated killing of a friend, to demonstrate toughness and to impress another whom the Juvenile considered a closer friend. The evidence also described efforts by the Juvenile to remove from the victim any chance of seeking aid and then to conceal the crimes."
During his arraignment hearing, Drake waived his right to have a trial within 90 days. The judge alluded to the fact that Drake’s lawyers may need more time to prepare for it.
The trial has been scheduled for September 24-28, 2012. Before that, a motions hearing will be held on August 9th.
Now that it is an adult case, a bond was also set at Monday’s hearing. Judge Stutzman set it at $500,000. Drake is being held in the Geary County Juvenile Detention Center. If convicted as an adult, he could get life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years.