Archive for Saturday, June 4, 2005

Three sentenced in killing

June 4, 2005


— A Topeka man was sentenced to life in prison Friday for shooting a man to death last year at a car wash here while the victim's wife and children watched from inside the vehicle.

Jesse James Romero, 20, had pleaded guilty. He will be eligible for parole consideration after serving 20 years.

Mark Duncan, 39, of Berryton, was shot to death July 7, 2004, while washing his sport utility vehicle at Squeaky's Auto Wash.

Prosecutors said Romero and two other men had spent much of that day staking out shopping centers in search of a potential robbery victim.

Shawnee County District Judge Eric Rosen sentenced another man charged in the case, Jesse Dean Chandler, 19, of Claremore, Okla., to a total of 23 years and five months in prison. Chandler had struck a deal with prosecutors in which he pleaded no contest to intentional second-degree murder, attempted aggravated robbery and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery.

A third man, Michael O. Bennett, 27, of Topeka, was sentenced to a total of seven years and one month in prison for attempted aggravated robbery and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery.

Prosecutors, who focused on Romero as the trigger man, said the three men saw an elderly couple and followed them until seeing Duncan washing his SUV at the car wash.

Romero and Chandler confronted Duncan as his wife and two children watched from inside the vehicle, prosecutors said, and Romero shot Duncan in the chest during a scuffle.


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