Archive for Tuesday, January 7, 2003

Suspect charged in slaying

January 7, 2003


The man police say killed a Lawrence cook who let him stay in his apartment was charged Monday with second-degree murder.

David J. Uptain, 31, described as a transient by Lawrence Police, was ordered held on $175,000 bond during an appearance before Douglas County Judge Pro Tem Peggy Kittel.

Uptain is accused of killing Michael B. Riley, 49, Lawrence.

Riley's body was discovered Saturday by police in his apartment at Hampton Court, 1722 W. 24th St. Police said they went to the south-central Lawrence apartment after receiving a tip.

Neither police nor the Douglas County District Attorney's Office have released many details about the slaying. They have not said how Riley died or disclosed a motive.

Assistant Dist. Atty. Dave Zabel declined to specify why the charge was second-degree murder instead of first-degree.

"We thought that was what the facts showed," Zabel said.

Kansas law defines second-degree murder as the killing of a human being committed intentionally without premeditation, or unintentionally but recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.

If convicted, Uptain could face a maximum of 653 months, or more than 54 years, in jail. The standard sentence for second-degree murder is 272 months, or more than 22 years, in jail.

Results of an autopsy performed Sunday were not released.

Riley was a cook at International House of Pancakes, 3102 Iowa, and had been allowing Uptain to stay with him, police said. Neighbors at Hampton Court said they heard loud noises Friday night as if a fight was taking place in Riley's apartment.

Uptain is no stranger to Lawrence Police. In December he was charged with burglary, misdemeanor theft and possession of drug paraphernalia. The charges stemmed from incidents in July 2002.

Uptain had pleaded no contest to those charges and was to be sentenced Jan. 23. Other drug charges he faced were dismissed by the district attorney's office in return for the plea.

Uptain was previously under supervision of the Kansas Department of Corrections for a Wyandotte County burglary, but his probation ended in October 2001, according to Wyandotte County court officials.

Uptain said little during Monday's court appearance. He told Kittel he was unemployed and didn't have enough money to hire an attorney. Kittel appointed Lawrence attorney Craig Stancliffe to represent Uptain.

Uptain will be back in court again at 2 p.m. Thursday, when a preliminary hearing date likely will be set.

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