New defense attorneys seek, get more time to prepare for triple-murder case

Anthony Laron Roberts, 20, of Topeka, was arrested Wednesday, October 18, 2017, in connection with a Lawrence triple homicide (Source: Shawnee Co. Sheriff's Office)
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LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) -- A hearing to determine whether a defendant acted in self defense when he allegedly shot two men and one woman, fatally wounding them, was rescheduled on Friday to give defense attorneys more time to prepare for the hearing.

Through defense counsel, Anthony Laron Roberts Jr. had been scheduled to question witnesses in Douglas County District Court.
Roberts, 21, is charged with two counts of felony first degree murder, one count of second-degree murder, and one count of attempted second-degree murder.

A self-defense immunity hearing was to have been conducted Friday in a courtroom in Lawrence to determine whether Roberts would be immune from prosecution because he acted in self defense during the slayings.

Defense attorney Shaye Downing told Douglas County District Court Judge Sally Pokorny she was seeking a later date for the self-defense immunity hearing so defense attorneys can track down more information.

Downing and defense attorney Joshua Seiden, both in Lawrence, also sought a later jury trial date for Roberts. The Roberts trial was to begin on Feb. 4.

With the amount of discovery Downing and Seiden have to deal with and defense witnesses that must be tracked down, the Feb. 4 trial date isn't "a realistic amount of time" to start the Roberts trial, Downing said.
The self-defense immunity hearing will be conducted on March 8. Roberts' two-week trial will start on June 10.

On Oct. 1, 2017, Topekans Colwin Lynn Henderson III, 20, and Tre’Mel Dupree Dean-Rayton, 24, and 22-year-old Leah Elizabeth Brown, of Shawnee, were fatally wounded on Massachusetts, the main street in downtown Lawrence. Two other Topeka men, Royelle Hunt, then 28, and Tahzay Rayton, then 19, were wounded by gunfire.

Downing and Seiden were appointed by the court to defend Roberts, replacing Jennifer Chaffee after the judge discharged Chaffee from representing Roberts due to her incompetence to try the Roberts case, including causing a mistrial four days into jury selection in the case.

At the time of the mistrial in November 2018, Roberts and co-defendants Ahmad Malik Rayton and Dominique Jaquez McMillon were to be tried together.

Ahmad Rayton, who is charged with two counts of attempted second-degree murder, now is scheduled to be tried on April 8.

The third defendant, Dominique Jaquez McMillon, who is charged with aggravated assault and misdemeanor battery, is to be tried starting March 18.