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In murder case, judge denies lowering $1 million bond to $250,000

Francisco Mendez (Source: Shawnee Co. Dept. of Corrections)
Francisco Mendez (Source: Shawnee Co. Dept. of Corrections)(WIBW)
Published: Dec. 21, 2020 at 8:58 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A Shawnee County prosecutor opposed cutting the bond of a man charged with killing one man and wounding a second victim to $250,000 on Monday.

The bond of defendant Francisco Alejanero Mendez, 19, remained at $1 million cash or professional surety bond when Shawnee County District Court Judge Cheryl Rios declined to lower Mendez’ bond.

KiAnn Caprice, the defense attorney, had sought lowering her client’s bond, noting that it’s unknown when jury trials will resume due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mendez also has the support of his family, Caprice said.

The Kansas Supreme Court has ordered the suspension of the speedy trial because of COVID- 19.

Charles Kitt, deputy district attorney and chief of staff, objected to any modification of Mendez’ bond.

Kitt said the district attorney’s office would be more than willing to permit Mendez to exercise his right to a speedy trial.

In deciding whether to decrease Mendez’ bond, the judge said she would have to look at whether Mendez would appear in court if he were released on a lower bond.

Rios said she would also have to examine whether granting a lower bond would impact the safety of community.

Rios denied modifying the Mendez bond.

Mendez is to appear in court next on January 26, the judge said.

Mendez is the only defendant charged in the shooting death of Dwane Simmons, on April 28, 2019, at S.W. 13th and Lane.

Mendez has denied he was involved in the shooting death of Simmons, a Topeka police detective earlier testified.

Of the 12 charges Mendez faces, five are tied to events on April 28, 2019:

  • premeditated first-degree murder of Simmons
  • attempted first-degree murder of Ballentine, who was drafted by a professional football team and who was wounded
  • three counts of attempted first-degree murder of Channon Ross, Kevin Neal and James Letcher, who were with Simmons and Ballentine. The five victims were Washburn University football players.

Mendez also is charged with two counts of aggravated robberies on April 27 in what has been referred to as the “Central Park robbery.”

Mendez also is charged with five aggravated robberies on April 30.

The shootings of Simmons and Ballentine occurred outside 1287 S.W. Lane.

At one point, Mendez’ projected nine-day jury trial had been scheduled to start on July 13, 2020, but it was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as have other court cases.

During Mendez’ preliminary hearing, Ballentine, Simmons and the other three football players were standing at S.W. 13th and Lane celebrating Ballentine’s drafting into professional football when two of the five players were shot.

Ballentine recovered from his gunshot wound and played in the 2019-2020 season on the New York Giants football team.

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