Defendant in killing of 5-year-old gets 3rd defense attorney

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) --- Jesse Dean Dashawn Hughes Jr. on Wednesday met the third attorney to defend him since he was charged in 2017 with fatally shooting a 5-year-old girl as she rode in her mother's car.

The appointment of Jason Belveal forced the postponement of Hughes' jury trial to start on Aug. 5 so that Belveal has enough time to prepare to defend Hughes.

Belveal was contacted on Monday about defending Hughes.

Hughes is charged with one count of felony first-degree murder in the July 6, 2015, shooting death of Lily Coats-Nichols, who died several days after she was shot.

Hughes, also is charged with one count of criminal discharge of a firearm at an occupied vehicle in which Lily Coats-Nichols was riding, according to the complaint filed in the case.

On Jan. 28, Hughes filed a hand-written motion seeking removal of Joshua Seiden as his defense attorney.

Eight days later, Seiden filed a motion seeking to withdraw as Hughes' attorney.

Deputy District Attorney Brett Watson objected, saying he didn't want his jury trial delayed because Hughes wasn't "satisfied" with his defense counsel.

Watson predicted that Hughes wouldn't be satisfied with his newest defense attorney.

Before Hughes received his third attorney, his jury trial was scheduled to start on April 1.

The shooting of Coats-Nichols’ was reported to Topeka police at 11:38 p.m. on July 6, 2015, at S.E. Golf Park and Fremont.

During a preliminary hearing in June 2018, the child’s mother, Raven Amber Coats, testified that soon after hearing a series of gunshots, she was asked whether she and Lily were okay.

“We are,” she recalled saying.

Coats remembered opening her car door to check Lily.

“Lily! Lily, wake up,” Coats said. “She was unresponsive” and appeared to be “sleeping.”

After briefly trying CPR on the child, she was driven to a hospital.
Coats-Nichols died July 9, 2015, at a Topeka hospital.

According to the child's mother, she was driving west on Golf Park, then turned north onto Fremont and had passed a parked vehicle when a southbound vehicle passed the Coats car and the parked car.

Coats heard six to eight gunshots behind her car, she testified.

Raven Coats testified her daughter was properly harnessed in her child seat when she was struck by gunfire. Raven Coats and her boyfriend weren’t wounded.

Topeka police found 15 shell casings fired from a 9mm handgun in the intersection of S.E. Golf Park and Fremont.