A man was convicted Tuesday in a shooting that killed three people in a popular downtown area of a Kansas college town.
Anthony Roberts Jr., 22, of Topeka, was found guilty of two counts of first-degree felony murder, one count of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder, the Lawrence Journal-World reports.
Deputy District Attorney David Melton said Roberts opened fire in October 2017 after he and his friends confronted a group of other Topeka men with whom they had “bad blood” as crowds were leaving bars, concerts and other events on the main downtown Lawrence street.
But Roberts’ attorneys argued that he acted in self-defense and was legally openly carrying a gun with an extended magazine before the shooting.
“Anthony and his friends are being pummeled, and Anthony’s about to be next,” said Joshua Seiden, one of two defense attorneys representing Roberts. “Anthony saw guns being drawn, he had no time to think, and he reacted. Anthony drew his gun, a 9-millimeter Glock. To protect his friends and to protect himself, Anthony fired that Glock.”
The gunfire killed 22-year-old Leah Brown, of Shawnee; 20-year-old Colwin Lynn Henderson, of Topeka; and 24-year-old Tre’Mel Dupree Dean-Rayton, of Topeka. Two others were wounded but survived. Brown was the only victim who knew no one else involved.
But Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson urged jurors not to excuse Roberts’ action as self-defense. He said forensic testing showed all 15 9mm shell casings left behind in the area were fired by Roberts’ Glock 26.
“There was no self-defense in this case,” he said. “There simply was murder.”
A second defendant was convicted previously of attempted voluntary manslaughter, and a third of misdemeanor battery.
Sentencing is set for Aug. 1. The maximum sentence is life imprisonment.