Murder charge filed in Dwane Simmons killing

Francisco Mendez (Source: Shawnee Co. Jail)
Francisco Mendez (Source: Shawnee Co. Jail)(WIBW)
Published: Jul. 12, 2019 at 4:45 PM CDT
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An 18-year-old Topeka man faces multiple charges, including first-degree murder, in the killing of Washburn football player Dwane Simmons and the shooting of his former teammate Corey Ballentine earlier this year.

In addition to the murder charge, Francisco Alejandro Mendez faces an attempted first-degree murder charge as well as five counts of aggravated robbery, the Shawnee Co. District Attorney’s Office said. He is being held on a million dollar bond and is due in court on Monday, June 15, at 10 a.m.

Mendez has been locked up in the Shawnee Co. jail since May 1, when he was booked on three counts of armed robbery.

"It was just a matter of getting all the testing done and everything that we needed to actually make this into a chargeable case," Shawnee Co. District Attorney Mike Kagay explained. "Recently, we received some forensics testing we were waiting on and it made it very clear that it was time to charge the case."

Simmons and Ballentine were shot in the early morning hours of April 28 during a party outside a home near the intersection of SW 13th St. and Lane St. Simmons died at the scene. Ballentine, who had been drafted by the New York Giants hours earlier, was wounded and rushed to a nearby hospital. He has since recovered and joined the Giants a few weeks later.

During the course of the police investigation, the DA’s Office says investigators learned of two related robberies that occurred on April 27 and April 30. According to a criminal complaint filed shortly after Mendez arrest in May, three of the robbery charges are linked to the April 30 incidents.

The two robbery charges added Friday stemmed from the April 27 robberies and were unrelated to the shootings just a few hours later, Kagay said.

Kagay did note the investigation into Simmons death is still ongoing and asks anyone with information about the shooting to contact the Topeka Police Dept.