Archive for Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Teen faces murder charge in girl’s death

Prosecutors say boyfriend drove recklessly away while his girlfriend lay dying

September 5, 2007


— Johnson County prosecutors filed a second-degree murder charge Tuesday against a 19-year-old De Soto man, accusing him of recklessly driving away while his 17-year-old girlfriend, who later died from her injuries, fell to the ground.

Sheriff's officers said the incident stemmed from a domestic dispute Friday night in De Soto, when Griselda Del Real was riding on the running board of Johnny Landa's SUV and fell.

Landa reportedly left the scene in the 8200 block of Ottawa Street, but he later returned when officers called him. Officers arrested Landa on Saturday, the morning Del Real died at Overland Park Regional Medical Center from her injuries, sheriff's spokesman Tom Erickson said.

The news of Del Real's death made for a somber Tuesday at De Soto High School, where she was a senior. Students and teachers wore pink ribbons, her favorite color.

"She was a sweet girl, and this is just unfortunate that this happened," Principal David Morford said.

Sheriff's officers say Del Real and Landa were arguing over another girl at 10:40 p.m. Friday while he was in his white Cadillac Escalade. At some point, Del Real fell from standing on the SUV's running board and suffered multiple injuries, Erickson said.

"When she came off the vehicle, he didn't stop, he kept going," Erickson said.

Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline on Tuesday amended Landa's charges from aggravated battery up to unintentional but reckless second-degree murder and added an obstruction of justice charge for alleged conduct during an interview with authorities.

Kline said Landa showed "a reckless disregard for human life" during the situation. Landa pleaded not guilty to the charges Tuesday and remained in the Johnson County Jail on $500,000 bond.

Community reaction

Robert Harvey, who lives on the southern side of Ottawa Street about 100 feet east of the 82nd Street intersection, said he heard a vehicle speeding down Ottawa Street with someone shouting "stop," followed by what sounded like a car door slamming and the vehicle driving off. He then heard a louder groaning in the street, saw Del Real and called 911.

Harvey said he saw a white SUV and black car pull up to the injured girl, and someone yelled "oh my God" and they sped off before firefighters arrived.

Del Real had worked at the Taco Bell and KFC restaurant in De Soto for two years, afternoon shift manager Nora Cepeda said.

"All I can say is we lost a very lovely person," she said. "She was a great employee and a friend. She was friendly to everyone."

De Soto students were able to meet with counselors, social workers and school psychologists Tuesday morning.

The school is working with the restaurant to raise money for Del Real's family to help pay funeral and hospital expenses. Morford, the principal, said they had raised more than $1,100 Tuesday afternoon.

Services are scheduled for Saturday but have not been finalized, said Alvie Cater, a school district spokesman.

Friends reminisce

Visiting a shrine Tuesday that has sprung up at the 83rd and Ottawa street intersection, Griselda Marquez and Susana Marquez said they didn't believe Landa intended to hurt his girlfriend of nearly four years.

"That's what we're hoping," Griselda Marquez said. "That's the only thing that makes sense. "He was troubled, but I think he was very misunderstood."

The two unrelated young women went to school and worked with Del Real, they said. Both now work at Taco Bell, where Landa would regularly visit to spend time with Del Real during her breaks, they said.

Griselda Marquez said she became Del Real's best friend in middle school when the girl's parents, Bertha and Juan Del Real, moved to De Soto. "The Griselda twins" worked at various department stores and fast-food restaurants before both started working at Taco Bell, said Griselda Marquez, who graduated last spring from De Soto High School.

Within the last year, the two girls started to drift apart as Del Real spent more time with Landa, Griselda Marquez said.

"When you thought of Johnny, you thought of Griselda. When you thought of Griselda, you thought of Johnny," she said. "They were always together.

The two young women said Del Real and Landa's relationship didn't appear rocky. The couple were, the two said, "like everybody else."

De Real was a "realist," Griselda Marquez said.

"She was the person that always told you what she thought no matter what," she said. "She would say, 'You needed to hear that.' She was like my mom."

- Staff writer George Diepenbrock can be reached at 832-7144. De Soto Explorer editor Elvyn Jones can be reached at (785) 542-2747.

De Soto Explorer editor Elvyn Jones can be reached at (785) 542-2747.


Steve Jacob 10 years, 9 months ago

It still might have been manslaughter if he did not come back, saw what he done, and drive away again.

And what century do you live in doc1? 19 year olds drive Cadillac all over this town.

doc1 10 years, 9 months ago

A 19 year old with a Cadillac? This punk must be a drug dealer. I call him a punk because she was obviously yelling at him to stop and he didn't. He then checked on her and left her for dead. What a loser. And then he spouts off at the police and gets an obstruction charge. What a class act. The only good news out of this is that he will be charged in Johnson County and not Douglas.

mom_of_three 10 years, 9 months ago

or maybe she was on the vehicle, he started driving and she fell, which led to the reckless driving charge.

It's just such a sad situation.

TheYetiSpeaks 10 years, 9 months ago

Disclaimer: I am in no way excusing this despicable act.
BUT she was on the running board of a moving vehicle being driven by someone she was arguing with and she did not get off when the vehicle started moving. I'm just saying there was plenty of terrible decisions to go around here. However, that is still no excuse for the driver. By the way, Desoto has quite a few wealthy families for those that dont know...just because the kid was driving an Escalade does not make him a "drug dealer".

METALQ2 10 years, 9 months ago

Hey JW, get this punks pic off the front page. Also it wasn't reported how he beat her with a ball bat prior to running over her.

salad 10 years, 9 months ago

What a charming young man, just charming!

Frederic Gutknecht IV 10 years, 9 months ago

offtotheright says: "Did no one teach this girl not to jump onto a moving vehicle?"

If people deserved to die for acting foolishly then we would never have had to read this idiotic comment.

50YearResident 10 years, 9 months ago

Heck, there are a lot of 19 year olds working at Taco Bell & Kentucky Fried that own Cadillacs. The DeSoto police should clear this up by running the Vehicle VIN# and proving that the kid did in fact own this vehicle and that it is not "Stolen"

compmd 10 years, 9 months ago

The driver of a vehicle is responsible for what goes on while he is operating the vehicle. It is completely irrelevant that the girl was holding onto the car while it was moving: Mr. Landa had a brake pedal that he knowingly, consciously chose not to use.

MacHeath, TFA states she worked at Taco Bell, no indication of where he worked.

See my earlier post (the article about the kids in the Mustang GT convertible that met a tree) on how it is more reasonable for you to walk outside and be smote by a meteor than to accept that this kid actually owns this Escalade. When you add up age, education, credit, loan rates, insurance rates, and gas prices, things will become a little clearer.

Confrontation 10 years, 9 months ago

Johnny is such a class act....according to the KC Star:

"In 2006, Landa was found guilty in Johnson County District Court of reckless driving and failure to stop at an injury accident that occurred in 2005. He was released from probation in June. He was also placed on probation in 2004 after being charged as a juvenile with aggravated battery."

Frederic Gutknecht IV 10 years, 9 months ago

offtotheright says: "It sounds like this was just an unfortunate accident"

What exactly do you imagine is "accidental "about driving off with someone hanging onto your car?

Bree_Brand_1515 10 years, 9 months ago

Miss Del Real and I were good friends. Some of the comments I have read about her have not been so kind. I'm 18 and was in school with her. We don't know the whole story so in a way we can't say any thing. And she didn't junp onto the car she was already on the car when he took off. There are some many things going around but that one I know of. So please keep it kind.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 10 years, 9 months ago

Well, she clearly wasn't being forced to jump onto the running boards. What is he supposed to do? If the genders were reversed, we'd call the victim a stalker and claim the driver was just "trying to get away". Think about it. He has a right to leave, doesn't he, or was he supposed to be held hostage by his obsessed girlfriend? I think it's OK to say that she bears some responsibility for her actions. Both of them do.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 10 years, 9 months ago

SenileEnuf2BYurDad says: He has a right to leave, doesn't he, or was he supposed to be held hostage by his obsessed girlfriend? I think it's OK to say that she bears some responsibility for her actions.

So if she stood in front of his car and he wanted to leave, he should have run her down. I see what you're saying. Of course. That makes perfect sense. The guy in the Caddy was being held hostage. His life was probably in danger. He was probably being "stalked" by his girlfriend who was "obsessed". I get it now. Yours is an idiotic way of thinking about this tragedy.

Angie Evers 10 years, 9 months ago

Just a clarification...Landa (the driver) didn't work at Taco Bell and KFC. Del Real (the girl) did. It doesn't say what Landa does for a living.

Sad story all the way around.

FormerCentralKansan 10 years, 9 months ago

This is already sounding like the great Yello Sub debacle on here. People flocking to the LJW message board to defend a questionable character only to disappear once all the facts are known and the person in question turns out to be a complete loser.

My sympathies to Griselda's family.

kugrad 10 years, 9 months ago

I worked at that age, no way I could afford a Cadillac Escalade!

Kontum1972 10 years, 9 months ago

it will catch up with him in da big house....

domino 10 years, 9 months ago

My 17 year old drive a 1996 Ford Ranger with body damage from where a deer ran into the side of it. By the time he graduates next spring, he will have it paid off - by himself - I split tags, taxes & insurance (liability only) with him. He works 4-5 hours a day after school and in the summers. No way he could afford wheels like this. Feel bad for the girls family - my son lost 2 friends this summer to tragic accidents - it's a tough thing to deal with.

Fatty_McButterpants 10 years, 9 months ago

Wow, I didn't know that there were so many witnesses to this crime! How is it that you all were there while this happened? That must be how you know so much about the night and what either of the two participants intentions were.

Leprechaunking13 10 years, 9 months ago

So many of you seem to have been at the scene of the accident and know everything about what happened. How would any of you know whether she jumped on the car or was on there before hand? It is possible that his parents bought him the escalade, De soto though small is still in Johnson County. I love how articles like this draw all the "geniuses" that read this paper to post.
Don't know all the facts but looks like this girl could have not been on the guys ride, not saying he isn't at fault though since I'm sure he has a brake right next to the gas pedal he used to speed off.

Steve Jacob 10 years, 9 months ago

Sorry, I don't know what the LJW has reported compaired to the Star. The girl in the car has to be the best witness. And somone saw a car like his drive by again, then drive off. Like I said, if he just stayed from the beginning, and called 911 she might still be alive, and he might not be in jail.

compmd 10 years, 9 months ago

Dear Kaeyla,

You must be new here. Welcome to the Lawrence Journal-World forums. Now that you've got all that out of your system, I'm certain you'd be happy to share some facts of the story with us (since you've made it apparent you knew Griselda, may she rest in peace) and cease your childish, vulgar posts that have no other purpose than to attack individuals personally and generally call everyone here clueless. If that's what you want, MySpace is two doors down on the left.

Again, welcome to the LJW, we hope you enjoy your stay.

Sincerely yours,


TheYetiSpeaks 10 years, 9 months ago

Wow....Now theres an intelligent response. Ladies and gentleman...the youth of America....breathtaking.

TheYetiSpeaks 10 years, 9 months ago

KaeylaK- I dont believe he was exonerating the young man. He obviously is at fault and will get plenty of jail time to think about it. HOWEVER, jumping on to a moving vehicle ANDOR staying on one that starts to move is at best a serious error in judgement. Unfortunately, her error and confidence in her aquaitance's compassion cost her and her family deeply.

Bree_Brand_1515 10 years, 9 months ago

I was friends with her and everyone in De Soto loved her very much. If any of you would like to know what we have been told please just let me know. If any of u want to know about her then on 9-6-07 there is a Rosary for her. I went to school with both him and her. I knew the both of them very well. Please try and be a little bit respactful towards all of us because some students like myself from De Soto have gotton on here and read all of this. And yes some of her family has seen it. Thank you for those who care. This is a very hard time for alot of us.

dawnrachelle122 10 years, 9 months ago

I go to Desoto High School and i am i senior. I went to school with Griselda and was friends with her. I'm pretty sure most of you if at all ANY of you were there at the accident. I was not even there and i live in the town. I think it is funny how everyone is so quick to judge when all you have read is an article in the newspaper. If you did not know Griselda dont come on here talking like you knew her just because you read an article and "think" you know her. I know for a fact she was a very friendly, loving, pretty, smart girl who was going somewhere in life and got held down by some piece of s*** low-life. I have read every comment on here and most of your are worried about his "Escalade" and how he got it and blah blah. Well, he sure the hell didnt have a regular job. I know my friend Griselda paid for alot for him because he didnt have a job. (and i know that for a fact, she was my friend) He dropped out of our high school. and yes there are "gangs" in little Desoto. Johhny was into drugs, i have no proof he was s drug dealer. But pretty sure he was. NO his mom and dad didnt buy him that escalade and if you knew him, you would know that. It breaks my heart to get on here and read the things people are saying about Griselda. She was my friend, my classmate, and she was going to graduate with me this year. And, also for those of you on here defending Johhny Landa go to the Johnson County Courts Homepage and look up his name. This is not his first offense. Dont come down on Griselda or the Del Real family, they are going through enough right now. Its not easy dealing with the death of a loved one. Griselda will always be remembered by everyone forever.

If your going to leave a comment, dont say hurtful things about someone most of dont even know..cause truth is you dont know the whole story. From this accident i have learned the Newspapers and News channels dont always get all the information correct. So, THINK before you put a comment on here. Her family and friends do get on here and read this. Be respectful. If someone in your family died, you wouldnt want people getting on here talking trash about them.


RIP_GRIS_DEL_REAL 10 years, 2 months ago

oky griz had a brand new 2007 scion and she worked a t taco bell stupid johnny worked a construction worker selling drugs and he had the ugly cadillac not to nice though financed for couple of yrs under someone elses name so nah he aint rich he just a stupid dude with a car pymnt like every on else

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