Defendant seeks to withdraw pleas in multiple-slaying case

Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 12:42 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A man whose pleas have see-sawed between innocence and guilt in a multiple murder case is to appear in Shawnee County District Court on September 23 to argue his latest motion seeking to withdraw his pleas in the case.

On January 30, 2020, Brian Joseph Flowers, now 35, filed his hand-written motion seeking to withdraw his pleas. The Shawnee County District Attorney's Office opposes Flowers' motion to withdraw his pleas.

On April 16, 2019, Flowers pleaded guilty in the deaths of Matthew Leavitt, 19, and Nicole Star Fisher, 38, in a North Topeka meth house. Flowers wasn't charged in the slaying of the third victim, Luke Patrick Davis, 20.

On April 16, 2019, Brian Joseph Flowers twice said "guilty" in the deaths of Leavitt and Fisher, whose bodies were found in the basement of a meth house at 115 N.W. Grant on March 12, 2017. The victims were strangled or suffocated, and the men also had been beaten.

When Flowers made the pleas, it was three days before Flowers' jury trial was to start. 

In his motion to withdraw his plea, Flowers said his attorney had represented a co-defendant at an unspecified point, and that would be a conflict.

Flowers said his defense attorney told him Judge Nancy Parrish, who would sentence him, would be "mad" at Flowers for seeking to withdraw a plea at that time and urged Flowers to focus on seeking concurrent prison terms, that the judge could impose consecutive prison terms on Flowers.

"The reason I even took this plea is because all my lawyers that I have had on this case told me it was the best thing for me, that if I took it to trial I would lose not because of evidence but because of all the media this case has got" and alleged lies made by a witness, Flowers wrote in his motion to withdraw his pleas.

In the motion, Flowers denied killing anyone, that "I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.

"When this all started happening, all I could think is that this not real," then all he could think about was how to "get out of (the Grant house) without getting myself killed or put my daughters in harm's way after I got home," Flowers' motion to withdraw his pleas said.

In a 42-page response to Flowers, Deputy District Attorney Brett Watson said "the defendant's claims of actual innocence are not believable."

To warrant withdrawing a plea, a defendant must "show manifest injustice," Watson wrote. "However, a defendant fails to show manifest injustice when they have simply changed their mind about the plea agreement.

"That is what happened in this case," Watson wrote.

"The state submits that the defendant is not innocent, he is guilty," Watson wrote.

"His constitutional rights were not violated, he received the best assistance that competent counsel could provide. The defendant has simply changed his mind and that does not create a manifest injustice," Watson wrote.

Besides the felony first-degree murders, Flowers also was charged with two counts of aggravated kidnapping of Leavitt and Fisher and one count each of aggravated assault and aggravated robbery, Watson wrote.

Those four charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement with the district attorney's office.

The Flowers case is to next appear in court on September 23 for a motion hearing.

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