A trial set to begin this morning will delve into a 2006 shooting outside a local nightclub that left one man dead and sparked a debate about downtown safety.
Attorneys will give opening statements today in Douglas County District Court in the trial of Rashawn T. Anderson, 20, Topeka, who is charged with first-degree murder for the Feb. 5, 2006, shooting of Robert Earl Williams, 46, Lawrence. Anderson also is charged with aggravated battery for gunshots that injured a Kansas City, Kan., man, Pierre Burnette.
The shooting happened around 2 a.m. outside the Granada, 1020 Mass., after what Williams' widow has described as a spontaneous argument among strangers.
Defense attorneys will argue that the case is a "whodunit," and that there's room for confusion about who fired the shots.
"We don't believe there's any contest to it," District Attorney Charles Branson said. "We believe the evidence shows that this is the person that pulled the trigger that night."
The trial is scheduled to last at least until the end of the week and to include 15 to 20 witnesses.
During jury selection Monday, attorneys quizzed potential jurors about their attitudes on subjects including Topeka and the safety of Lawrence's downtown.
"Is there some possibility that the fact that this crime occurred at a place where you go quite often : does that give you any hesitation about being a juror in the case?" defense attorney Tom Bartee asked one potential juror, who answered, "No."
Bartee asked some jurors whether Anderson's or other witnesses' ties to Topeka would influence their opinions of the case.
One local bar owner remarked after the shooting that he thought many problems at Lawrence drinking establishments "center on Topeka."