Archive for Saturday, March 12, 1994

CONVICTED MURDERER FACES AT LEAST 15 YEARS IN JAIL

March 12, 1994

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A Topeka man convicted Friday in a September carjacking homicide will spend at least 15 years in prison, Douglas County Dist. Atty. Jerry Wells said.

Wells said Abraham M. Orr, 18, faces a mandatory life imprisonment term for the felony murder conviction handed down late Friday morning after a two-day trial. Under current parole guidelines, Wells said, inmates who have been sentenced to regular life terms are eligible for release after 15 years.

Orr will not receive a "Hard 40" sentence, Wells said, because the slaying did not fit guidelines for the state's most punitive penalty. Wells said the "Hard 40" -- a life imprisonment term in which there's no chance of parole for at least 40 years -- applies only to first-degree, premeditated murder.

Orr was convicted of felony murder, or a slaying that occurred while Orr was trying to steal a 1992 Isuzu Trooper driven by the victim, Edward Lees, 29, Lawrence.

Sentencing for Orr is scheduled for 10 a.m. April 25.

The sentence for Orr's other conviction, on an attempted aggravated robbery charge, isn't clear. Wells said that under state sentencing guidelines that went into effect in July, the prison term for attempted aggravated robbery will depend largely on Orr's criminal record.

Orr was adjudicated an offender -- the juvenile equivalent of being found guilty in adult court -- of at least two felony crimes in Shawnee County before Sept. 18.

Jurors deliberated for about one hour and 15 minutes before convicting Orr as charged in the carjacking murder on Friday.

He was one of three Topekans, all 17 when Lees' died, implicated in the slaying. A jury during a formal hearing -- the juvenile version of an adult trial -- found one of his accomplices, Courtney Crockett, responsible for felony murder and attempted aggravated robbery.

James Wadley, the other teen implicated, was found responsible for attempted aggravated robbery.

Wadley and Crockett both are awaiting disposition hearings, which are the juvenile equivalent of sentencings. The maximum penalty for both is to be held at the Youth Center at Topeka until their 21st birthdays.

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