Jurors see recovery of 3 slaying victims from North Topeka basement

Kora Liles (Source: Shawnee Co. Sheriff's Office)
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) — Topeka police quickly found the bodies of a man and a woman in the basement of the small bungalow at 115 N.W. Grant on March 12, 2017.

“We got a body down here!” an officer’s voice said.

“Two bodies!” an officer called.

“Where’s the third?” another officer said.

It took police another 10 minutes of crisscrossing the basement floor before an officer found the second man’s body under debris near the first two.

The three victims were Luke Davis, 20; Nicole Fisher, 38; and Matthew Leavitt, 19.

The video tape was shown during the first day of evidence in the trial of Kora L. Liles, 32.

On Tuesday, Shawnee Co. District Court jurors watched a 25-minute video from a police Axon body camera. Police had used a small battering ram to break in an exterior door at the house and pried open the padlocked basement door.

Officers also had to make peace with an underfed tan Labrador retriever roaming inside the house.

Liles, of Topeka, is charged with three counts of felony first-degree murder in the killing of each victim; three counts of aggravated assault, three counts of aggravated kidnapping; and cultivating, distributing or possessing methamphetamines and unlawful use of drug paraphernalia.

In the prosecution’s opening statement, Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Dunbar said that while other defendants were smothering, stabbing and strangling the three victims in the North Topeka house, Liles was shopping at a WalMart and buying food from a McDonald’s to establish an alibi by being video-taped on the stores’ security cameras.

Liles wasn’t in the house at 115 N.W. Grant when the three were murdered, Dunbar told jurors, but she was charged because she aided and abetted in the crimes. The three were slain on March 12, 2017.

At times during Dunbar’s opening statement, Liles shook her head from side to side.
One by one, the three victims were killed in the living room of the small house where they had been held for hours, Dunbar told 12 jurors and three alternate jurors.

You would like to think “someone would step up and stop this,” Dunbar said. “No one did.”

Before the slayings, Liles, who had been holding a pistol, ordered Davis and Leavitt and Shane Mays, 19, to remove their shirts, which they did, Dunbar told jurors. Then she ordered them to dance, and two defendants did so.

On Tuesday, defense attorney Gary Conwell declined to make an opening statement.
Of the other four defendants, Joseph Aaron Krahn, 35, was sentenced Nov. 17 to three consecutive life terms of 50 years each for each victim. Krahn strangled Davis and Leavitt and asphyxiated Fisher, according to a statement issued by the district attorney’s office.

Krahn pleaded no contest on Oct. 19 to three counts of first-degree murder. As part of the plea agreement, other charges were dismissed.
Three other defendants are scheduled to be tried.

On Oct. 22, Brian Joseph Flowers, 33, is to go on trial charged with two counts of felony first-degree murder in the slayings of Leavitt and Fisher; two counts of aggravated kidnapping; one count of aggravated assault; and one count of aggravated robbery.

The trial of defendants Joseph P. Lowry, 31, and Shane Andrew Mays, 20, will start on Sept. 24.

Lowry is charged with three counts of felony first-degree murder of the three victims or in the alternative, two counts of premeditated first-degree murder of two victims; three counts of aggravated kidnapping; and one count each of aggravated assault and aggravated robbery.

Mays is charged with two counts of premeditated first-degree murder.