Archive for Sunday, September 12, 2004

Teens to face trial for murder of state worker

September 12, 2004


— Two young men will face trial on charges of killing a state employee shot to death at a Topeka car wash in front of his wife and two children.

Jesse J. Romero, 19, of Topeka, and Jesse D. Chandler, 18, of Claremore, Okla., were bound over for trial after a preliminary hearing last week in Shawnee County District Court. They are charged with felony first-degree murder, attempted aggravated robbery and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery in the July 7 shooting of Mark Duncan, 39.

A third man charged in the case, Michael O. Bennett, 26, testified at the preliminary hearing under a plea agreement with prosecutors. He said that the agreement dismisses the murder charge against him, with a six-year prison term on the other charges.

David L.D. Erwin, 20, of Eudora, was bound over for trial on a charge of aiding a felon.

Bennett testified that on July 7, Romero and Chandler, each armed with a pistol, talked about snatching a purse. He said the three of them went to two stores and a restaurant looking for a victim, then stopped at the car wash.

Bennett said he remained in the car while Romero and Chandler entered the car wash bay Duncan was in. He said he heard Chandler ask Duncan for the time, then heard a shot. He said the two men ran back to the car and that Romero had a pistol in his hand.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.