Three Lawrence men will face murder charges in the death of a friend who was shot while allegedly helping them rob a house.
All of the defendants in the May 27 shooting appeared in court Friday morning, where District Judge Robert Fairchild heard the last of the testimony during their preliminary hearing. Following the hearing, Fairchild said the charges would stand and set another court appearance for Aug. 20, when a trial date will be set.
Dustin Welch and Maurice Murphy, both 18, are charged with first-degree murder, aggravated robbery, two counts of kidnapping, aggravated burglary and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery. James L. Hall, who was allegedly outside when Murphy, Welch and Jimmy Lee Johnson, the victim, entered the house at 1637 Kenwood, has been charged with first-degree murder, aiding and abetting kidnapping, aiding and abetting aggravated robbery and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery.
Trampas Will Hutchinson, 19, testified earlier that he shot Johnson, 19, with a .22-caliber pistol after three men broke into the house. Hutchinson, a resident of the house, said he kept the loaded pistol in his room for protection. Johnson, who was shot four times in the chest and abdomen, was not armed and died at the scene.
Accomplices involved in the commission of a felony can be charged with the death of a co-conspirator, according to state law.
Hutchinson has not been charged. He and three other people who were in the house at the time have testified in the case. They all have signed ``use immunity'' agreements with the Douglas County District Attorney's Office.
``We can't use the testimony against them or any evidence gathered as a result of their testimony,'' said Dist. Atty. Christine Kenney Tonkovich.
According to testimony during the hearing, which began July 24, police found 12 marijuana plants at the house, along with a gun and processed marijuana that was hidden outside.
Tonkovich said legislation allowing ``use immunity'' went into effect July 1, and that although prosecutors can't use testimony from the stand, any information gathered during the investigation immediately following the shooting can be used. Prosecutors haven't said whether further charges will be pursued.
-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is email@example.com.