During a Thursday morning hearing, the attorney for a 17-year-old accused of killing a Baker University student during a June 7 botched robbery said his client was accused of firing the fatal shots.
But Craig Stancliffe, a defense attorney for Kellam D. Jones, hopes to convince District Judge Michael Malone that Jones should be tried as a juvenile in the case.
"What we're supposed to be doing is determining whether or not this child is so far gone that we have to just treat him as an adult criminal and give him life imprisonment or whether he's young enough that he can be saved," Stancliffe said.
An alleged accomplice, 18-year-old Gage Hauk, also was shot and killed during the incident. Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said that Jones and Hauk early in the morning went to the east Lawrence residence in attempt to commit a robbery for drugs and money.
The resident, Roland Klundt, 20, came to the back door with a shotgun, the attorneys said Thursday. After Jones and Hauk tried to kick in the door, Klundt opened the door and shot Hauk, who had an air pistol, in the chest, killing him.
Jones then retreated into the back yard and fired shots at the door with a rifle. The shots struck and killed Klundt. Branson said Jones fired at least eight times. He also said that weeks earlier Jones was involved in an attempt to commit a robbery at the 1311 Del. residence, but that attempt was thwarted.
After the June 7 shootings, Jones ran away and hid. He discarded a sweatshirt and the rifle. Branson said Jones told another friend during a rock concert that Saturday about what had happened.
Police arrested him one day later, and he has been in juvenile detention of Douglas County Youth Services since then.
Jones faces charges of felony murder and aggravated burglary.
"This is a case that is extreme. The defendant in this case plotted with a co-defendant to partake in an aggravated robbery - an aggravated robbery in which they were armed with a rifle and an air pistol where they intended to go to the residence of the deceased and confront the resident," Branson said. "Not just merely break in to steal something but actually they had planned to confront the resident."
Stancliffe said that Malone has overseen many homicide cases during his time as a judge, some of which involved heinous violence.
"I take a risk in saying this. You might find that this is about as close to the least heinous that you would find," Stancliffe said in his opening statement.
He also said the entire event unfolded in less than a minute.
"This is a horrible tragedy, but thank God it was not drawn out," Stancliffe said.
The defense has presented witnesses who testified that Jones has been a model resident while in juvenile custody. Also, expert witnesses in treating juvenile offenders have taken the stand.
Malone has ruled that it is presumed Jones should be tried as an adult based on the seriousness of the charges involving use of a gun, but Stancliffe has a chance to present evidence to prove it would be more beneficial to try him as a juvenile.
Jones was 16 on June 7 and has since turned 17.
Carrie Mann, a neighbor, said since April 2007 Jones had been baby-sitting her three children while she worked the night shift, and he had not been attending Free State High School. Mann said Jones was trying to complete his GED.
Malone is expected to hear closing arguments from Branson and Stancliffe this afternoon, but it appears likely his ruling will come later.
Typically, juveniles convicted of crimes are held until they are 18, although provisions allow for them to be held until they are 23. An adult convicted of felony murder faces 20 years to life in prison.