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Attempted murder jury trial tentatively scheduled for March 2021

Anthony Ryan Downing (Shawnee Co. Sheriff's Office)
Anthony Ryan Downing (Shawnee Co. Sheriff's Office)(WIBW)
Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 12:31 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A 35-year-old man was formally arraigned Thursday on charges of attempted first-degree murder and felony criminal possession of a weapon.

In June 2019, the Shawnee County grand jury charged Anthony R. Downing with the two counts.

On Thursday, Downing stood silent when he was asked how he pleaded to the charges, and Shawnee County District Court Judge Cheryl Rios entered not guilty pleas twice on Downing’s behalf.

Downing’s jury trial is expected to last four days. The trial is to start on March 1, 2021.

“It is my hope that we can have a jury trial by March,” the judge told Downing and defense and prosecution attorneys in court.

The judge referred to precautions to cut the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

At this point, jury trials haven’t resumed in Shawnee County District Courts and other Kansas courts based on orders from the Kansas Supreme Court.

The orders are linked to the COVID-19 outbreak.

For trials to resume, the Kansas Supreme Court and various health agencies must approve plans submitted by a judicial district that would allow the safe conduct of a trial.

In Shawnee County courtrooms, some witness stands and jury boxes are encased in plexiglass, court participants and observers wear protective masks, and seating is more than 6 feet apart.

Downing is charged with stabbing a convenience store clerk in 2019.

On May 8, 2019, a clerk at the Kwik Shop, 1700 S. Topeka Boulevard, was stabbed a number of times at about 4:15 a.m.

The clerk was found down behind the counter and initially was hospitalized in serious condition.

Following a brief investigation and interviews of witnesses, Topeka police found Downing at S.W. 17th and Western.

In the 2019 stabbing, Downing underwent a competency examination at Larned State Security Hospital, and based on that, the judge in April 2020 found Downing was competent to proceed with the ongoing case.

Police also confirmed that Downing was convicted of the April 6, 2013, stabbing of a then-26-year-old man, who was stabbed outside what then was the Dillon grocery store at 1400 S.W. Huntoon.

In that incident, officers were called to the grocery store at 6:52 a.m., and Downing was taken into custody 10 minutes later near S.W. Huntoon and Polk.

In that case, Downing pleaded no contest to a charge of attempted second-degree murder, according to court records.

Downing was sentenced to six years in prison on April 18, 2014, and was ordered to pay restitution of $100,878, court records said.

Downin was released from prison on August 28, 2018, Kansas Department of Corrections records said.

The Kansas Supreme Court denied Downing’s appeal of the sentence in the 2014 conviction, court records said.

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