2 men bound in over in slaying tied to botched marijuana sale

Isaiah Calhoun, 23, (left) and Brandon Lee Gayer, 18
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Two defendants charged in the shooting death of a man during a marijuana sale in a central Topeka alley said they fired shots at the victim at close range, a Topeka police detective testified on Monday.

Witnesses testified in the preliminary hearing of Isaiah James Calhoun, 23, and Brandon Lee Gayer, 18. The two were bound over Monday on charges of felony first-degree murder or, in the alternative, intentional second-degree murder.

The victim was Gianni Sebastian Noriega, a 20-year-old Topeka man.
Calhoun and Gayer will appear in separate hearings on Nov. 15, where the dates for their jury trials will be scheduled.

Detective Ryan Hayden, lead investigator in the Noriega slaying, testified that during police questioning, both defendants said they fired shots at Noriega on Aug. 16 during a botched drug sale.

Noriega was shot in the west alley of the 400 block of S.W. Taylor.

Destiny Cox, a neighbor of Noriega, testified she was working in her backyard when she heard gunfire, then she ran to the alley where she found the wounded Noriega lying on his back.

"Please" was the only word the mortally wounded Noriega could say, Cox said.

Noriega was shot several times, including once in the chest just above his chest bone, Dr. Charles Glenn, Shawnee County coroner, said.

"It's really not a survivable injury,"Glenn said of the close-range gunshot wound to Noriega's chest.

Glenn said Noriega also suffered gunshot wounds in the back, the left thigh and the right forearm. He also suffered scrapes on an arm and perhaps the re-entry of the projectile from the arm gunshot wound into one side, Glenn said.

Noriega also suffered a small fracture on the back and left side of his skull, Glenn said. The coroner said Noriega had metabolites of marijuana in his system.

Hayden, the detective, testified that Gayer told him he and Calhoun had gone to the alley to buy marijuana from a woman. Instead of the woman, Noriega came to the alley and got in the car to sell the drugs, Hayden said.

The sale broke down into a dispute between Noriega and the two men, who fired their handguns, striking Noriega several times.

Calhoun ultimately told the detective that Noriega got in the car, pulled out some marijuana, then Calhoun put Noriega in a headlock, pulled a pistol and shot Noriega, the detective testified. Each defendant said the other was the aggressor in the shooting of Noriega, Hayden said.

Hayden said Gayer told him that Noriega had a pistol in his pocket and pulled the firearm.

However, Noriega's pistol was recovered from his apartment and hadn't been fired, Hayden said.

Police recovered Gayer's pistol but were unable to find Calhoun's firearm, Hayden said.