Affidavit: Travelers Inn murder stemmed from altercation over drugs, money

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 10:27 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A 19-year-old facing charges in the August homicide at the Travelers Inn told police he shot the victim after they got into an altercation over stolen drugs and money.

13 NEWS received a copy of the affidavit Wednesday morning detailing the events of August 24th.

It said officers from the Topeka Police Department were called to Room 232 at the Travelers Inn off of Topeka Blvd. just after 1:45 p.m. on reports of a shooting.

They found James Epps Jr. in the room with a gunshot wound to his head. Epps was pronounced dead at the scene just 15 minutes later.

The affidavit states officers began interviewing witnesses at the hotel who were able to provide descriptions and names of persons of interest in the shooting. Witnesses told police the subjects had left on foot.

An officer in the area was able to track down two people who fit the description, Isaiah Krainbill and Alexis Brock, just east of 37th and Topeka Boulevard. The affidavit said Krainbill refused to speak to police without an attorney present and he was taken to the law enforcement center as the investigation continued.

Isaiah Quin Dale Krainbill was arrested Monday, August 24, 2021, in connection with the City of...
Isaiah Quin Dale Krainbill was arrested Monday, August 24, 2021, in connection with the City of Topeka's 11th homicide of 2021.(Shawnee Co. Dept. of Corrections)

Investigators said Krainbill and Brock did not have any weapons on them when they were located and believed they may have hidden the gun used to shoot Epps. Police deployed a K9 unit to search the area for the weapon.

The affidavit states police interviewed Brock at the scene and she changed her story several times about why she and Krainbill went to Room 232. At first, officers report Brock said it may have been over a dice game, but later in the day she said it may have been over drugs and money.

According to the affidavit, Brock said when they were leaving the hotel, Krainbill handed her the gun and told her to put it in a backpack he was wearing at the time of the shooting. She then told officers she did not know where the backpack was, but that Krainbill told her he had thrown it over a fence.

The affidavit states police found the backpack with the gun inside in a fenced-in area on the northwest corner of the Relax Inn parking lot. Brock was able to identify both the backpack and gun as the ones used in the murder.

Several other witnesses were also interviewed at the shooting scene. The affidavit said they told officers Krainbill came into Room 232 with a gun. They said Epps confronted him and Krainbill shot Epps. One witness even recounts Krainbill threatening to shoot Epps just before firing the gun.

The affidavit states, in a follow-up interview, Brock recounted it differently. She described seeing Krainbill point the gun at Epps who ducked to get out of the way and left the hotel room. Brock said Krainbill lowered the gun, but Epps came back and the two began to argue again. According to the affidavit, Brock told police she looked away just before the shooting. She said she heard the gunshot and Epps fell to the ground.

According to the affidavit, another witness, who was in the room at the time, said Krainbill burst into the room with a gun and demanded drugs and money. That witness told police Epps confronted Krainbill and would not back down, and believed because of that, Krainbill shot him.

The affidavit states Krainbill was interviewed later at the law enforcement center after he agreed to talk to the police.

In his report of the incident, Krainbill said he went to Room 232 because the people in the room had taken Brock’s marijuana and money. The affidavit revealed Krainbill was upset and he said he went to try to make the situation right.

It states when they answered the door he pushed his way into the room and began yelling about where Brock’s money was. Krainbill told police Epps then punched him in the back of the head and he felt he had to defend himself, so he grabbed a gun from his waistband and shot Epps.

In the affidavit, the officer that interviewed Krainbill said he asked him if Epps had any kind of weapons on him that may justify Krainbill shooting him. It said Krainbill told him Epps had no weapons, only his hands.

The officer also recalls asking Krainbill if he felt like he should have shot Epps and he said something similar to, “it does not matter what I say, I am going to do a lot of time.”

Later on in the interview, the affidavit states Krainbill admitted he probably should not have shot Epps and that he was just reacting to the situation. In her interview, Brock also told police Krainbill had lost his temper and in her opinion, should not have shot Epps.

The affidavit states Krainbill was shown photos of the gun and backpack that officers found and he told police they were his and the gun was used to shoot Epps. He also admitted that he had been convicted of a felony before.

Police found a Shawnee County case where Krainbill plead guilty to aggravated robbery with a dangerous weapon. The affidavit states this conviction prohibited him from possessing a firearm.

The affidavit also revealed Epps autopsy results. The report states he was struck by the bullet above his left eye, it entered his head and traveled through his brain, which a coroner concluded caused Epps’ death.

The Shawnee County District Attorney has filed criminal charges against Krainbill for the murder of Epps. He faces charges of first-degree murder, premeditated, and criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

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