Defendant says he acted in self-defense in shooting death

(Topeka Police Department | WIBW)
Published: Dec. 23, 2020 at 2:58 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A defendant charged with murder in the shooting death of the victim is alleging he acted in self-defense in September in the death.

The defendant, Jason Michael Thomas, 37, appeared at a preliminary hearing this week, but he wasn’t bound over on any of the charges he faces.

Thomas is charged with felony first-degree murder, intentional second-degree murder, criminal discharge of a firearm at an occupied dwelling, criminal possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, making a criminal threat, and aggravated assault.

Through his defense attorney, Thomas alleges he is justified in the use of force due to self-defense.

Thomas wasn’t bound over on Tuesday for trial on any of the six charges. The victim, 35-year-old Matthew Pressler, died on September 26 after he was shot.

During the preliminary hearing of Thomas on Tuesday, eight witnesses were called by the Shawnee County District Attorney’s office to testify. Thomas didn’t call any witnesses.

The Thomas case is to return to the courtroom on January 21 for a criminal assignment docket.

On Wednesday, Thomas remains in Shawnee County Jail in lieu of a $1 million cash or professional surety bond, court records said.

Earlier in the case, District Attorney Mike Kagay said law enforcement officers were called to 321 S.W. Roosevelt at around 2:47 a.m. on September 26 after a shooting was reported.

Kagay said officers found Pressler suffering from a gunshot wound to his chest. He said Pressler died at the scene.

Shawnee County District Court Judge Jason Geier said the prosecution and defense attorneys will file briefs on the immunity issue and whether to bind over Thomas on the charges.

Kagay said occupants of the residence reported the suspect, who was later identified as Thomas, had arrived in a vehicle in front of the house and Pressler went outside on the porch.

Kagay said Thomas, exited the vehicle with a firearm in his hand and exchanged gunshots with Pressler, who was also armed.

Thomas was arrested in Jackson County two days after the slaying of Pressler on September 26.

Thomas was taken into custody after he was seen leaving a residence in Delia by a Jackson County sheriff’s detective, that sheriff’s department said.

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