Witnesses: 2 Topeka murder defendant plotted to kill 3rd defendant

Richard Showalter (left) and Bradley Sportsman (Source: Shawnee Co. Sheriff's Office)
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Two of four defendants in the killing of a woman and her cousin conspired to kill one of the remaining two defendants in the case, two witnesses testified on Thursday in Shawnee County District Court.

The two testified during a hearing in the case of Bradley D. Sportsman, who is charged with two counts of premeditated first-degree murder and two alternative counts of felony first-degree murder.

The two victims are 28-year-old Lisa Sportsman, Bradley Sportsman's estranged wife, and 17-year-old Jesse Polinsky. Lisa Sportsman and Polinsky were cousins.

The two witnesses had shared cells at different times with Sportsman and co-defendant Richard Daniel Showalter,

In the hearing Thursday before District Court Judge Cheryl Rios, the two witnesses testified that Showalter and Sportsman wanted them to tell police where to find two knifes and a hammer -- all used in the killings of Lisa Sportsman and Polinsky. The two were killed on July 23, 2018, in a house in a Hi-Crest neighborhood.

In exchange for telling police where the murder weapons were, each witness hoped they would be released from jail, then each was expected to travel to the small Kansas town where defendant Cole Pingel, 20, lived, go to his home and kill him, the witnesses testified on Thursday.

Showalter hoped Pingel, who Showalter viewed as the star witness against him in the murder case, would be killed, the two witnesses said. The two witnesses were instructed to make the would-be killing of Pingel look like the work of a drug gang.

If released from custody, neither of the two witnesses intended to kill Pingel, they testified.

"I wasn't ever going to kill anybody," one witness said.

Showalter told at least one of the two witnesses that each of the two victims had been bashed in the head with the hammer many times and stabbed dozens of times.

Showalter gave police enough information so that officers could find the two knives, two knife sheathes and the hammer, one witness said. Topeka police Detective Jason Judd, the lead detective in the investigation of the double homicides, testified police also recovered a pair of black dress pants that were used in the killings.

Suspects in the slayings wore black clothes and wore knives on their hips, Judd testified.

The hearing will resume on Monday.

Bradley Sportsman also is charged with conspiracy to commit murder, aggravated burglary, attempted murder, criminal discharge of a firearm, and distributing heroin, according to district court records.

On May 9, Bradley Sportsman was ordered to hand over his health care records from eight facilities, including hospitals and the Kansas Dept. of Corrections.
Sportsman is going to assert a mental disease or defect defense when he is tried, Shawnee County District Court Judge Cheryl Rios wrote in a court order.

Based on that, Sportsman "is deemed to have consented to the release of these documents and the court so orders them to be released," Rios wrote in an order issued last week.
The judge also ordered Sportsman to undergo a mental evaluation by Dr. Mitch Flesher, a psychologist.
The 41-year-old Sportsman is to be tried starting June 17.

In January, Sportsman declined to plead guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit murder and one count each of aggravated burglary and criminal discharge of a firearm at an occupied dwelling, all of which are felonies. If Sportsman, of Hollenberg, had accepted the plea offer, the sentences would have totaled 672 months, which is 56 years.
On July 23, the bodies of Lisa Sportsman and Polinskey were found in her home at 3451 S.E. Girard. The Sportsmans had been separated.

In July 2018, police spotted a pickup truck at I-470 and S.W. Topeka Boulevard, stopped it on I-470 and Gage, and the occupants were Sportsman; Pingel; Matthew D. Hutto, 20; and Richard Daniel Showalter, 32.

On Jan. 18, Hutto pleaded guilty to two counts of felony first-degree murder, and six charges were dismissed, court records said.

On May 10, Hutto was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences with no chance for parole until he serves at least 50 years.

Showalter is charged with two counts of premeditated first-degree murder; two alternative counts of felony first-degree murder; and one count each of conspiracy to commit murder; aggravated burglary; attempted murder, and possession of opiate.

Showalter will face a preliminary hearing on June 14.

On Oct. 29, Pingel was bound over to be tried on one felony charge of interference with a law enforcement when Pingel allegedly made a false statement to an officer on July 23, the same day the victims were found.