A Lawrence man who faces federal gun charges in connection with the unsolved killing of a Lawrence hip-hop artist has been declared mentally competent to stand trial.
Major C. "Ja Ja" Edwards, 27, was arrested on a federal warrant Oct. 23 in Mississippi for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. Douglas County Sheriff's investigators had been looking for Edwards because he was believed to have spent the night out with Anthony "Clacc" Vital, 28, on the final night of Vital's life.
Nearly seven months after Vital, the Lawrence hip-hop artist, was found dead Oct. 15 in rural Douglas County, the investigation has not publicly moved forward for the last few months.
"It's still an ongoing investigation. They are still working on it," said Lt. Kari Wempe, a Douglas County Sheriff's spokeswoman.
After his arrest, a federal grand jury indicted Edwards on five counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm or ammunition and one count of possessing a firearm not registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. Edwards was convicted in Douglas County District Court in 2000 for dealing cocaine.
In January, U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia approved an order for Edwards to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. According to court records, Edwards' attorney, Phillip R. Gibson, had written a motion earlier that Edwards had not been able to take medication prescribed for bipolar disorder since he was arrested.
In April, Murguia found Edwards to be competent and set his jury trial for 1:30 p.m. Aug. 6 in Kansas City, Kan.
According to a complaint filed in federal court, while investigating the Vital case Douglas County Sheriff's officers found an informant who said he saw Edwards in possession of .38-caliber revolver. Investigators also found a girlfriend of Edwards who said she had purchased a .22-caliber handgun for Edwards and then traded it in for the .38.
Officers also found .22-caliber bullets inside a residence that Edwards had been sharing with another girlfriend in the 500 block of Florida Street.
Three other people have been charged in Douglas County with either obstruction or criminal possession of a firearm related to the Vital investigation.
No one has been charged with killing Vital.
Edwards has unrelated cases pending in Douglas County District Court, and Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson has said those cases are on hold as prosecutors await the outcome of the federal case.