2 murder cases await Supreme Court order allowing trials

Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 3:54 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Two men charged with two separate murder cases in Topeka appeared Monday in hearings, but neither faces a scheduled trial date before jurors to determine their guilt or innocence.

Due to a Kansas Supreme Court order tied to the COVID 19 pandemic, two judges were unable to schedule the beginning dates for the trials of Lavonte Deshone Johnson, 23, and Brandon Keith Jordan, 49.

Shawnee County District Court Steven Ebberts, who is hearing the Johnson case, noted the pandemic, which spurred the Supreme Court to order the postponing of jury trials.

Judge Nancy Parrish, who is hearing the Jordan case said she didn't know when jury trials would be scheduled in Shawnee County courts.

According to a "notice," no jury trials will occur before August 30.

To start a trial requires five weeks to six weeks for the jury selection process to get to the point where prospective jurors can be called to court to serve, attorneys can question them, and attorneys can pick jurors to hear the case.

Jordan next will be in court on August 13 for a motion hearing.

Jordan is charged with felony first-degree murder; two felony counts of interference with a law enforcement and felony eluding police;  and misdemeanor counts of driving while suspended and reckless driving, according to court records.

On November 7 2019, Jordan was driving at Holly Lane and McAlister when his car and a vehicle driven by Dennis Affolter, 69, collided.

Affolter later died of his injuries.

Johnson next will appear in court on September 10 for a pre-trial hearing.

Johnson earlier pleaded not guilty in the car-to-car fatal shooting of a motorist in southeast Topeka on July 25, 2019.

Following an all-day preliminary hearing on November 12, 2019, Johnson; Zachary Jacob McFall, 16; and Danny Kaye Williams, 16, were bound over on charges of premeditated first-degree murder of 16-year-old Joaquin McKinney, felony first-degree murder of McKinney, and criminal discharge of a firearm at an occupied vehicle, according to court records.

Following a trial, McFall was convicted of one count of murder and the criminal discharge of a firearm, and he is to be sentenced on July 23.

Williams hasn't been tried and is to appear at a motion hearing on August 11, court records said.

During the preliminary hearing, a witness identified one of three defendants as the gunman who sat on a car window sill and propped his arms on the car roof to fire a barrage of shots, one of which struck the driver of a car being pursued on S.E. 37th on July 25.

During the hearing, a witness estimated 30 gunshots were fired and described the rate of fire as "semiautomatic shots."

The shooting was captured on video by an ambulance hauling a patient unrelated to the shooting death.

Williams and McFall originally were charged as juveniles, but their cases were moved to adult court.

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