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Archive for Thursday, February 14, 2008

Charges set in downtown car chase

Crime spree included two stolen vehicles, high-speed pursuits by police, several crashes

February 14, 2008

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Judge orders trial for suspected carjacker

A judge orders a man to stand trial on charges stemming from a carjacking and a police chase in late January that resulted in a number of car accidents. Enlarge video

Fund established

Longtime Kansas University faculty member Harry Shaffer has set up a fund to aid a local carjacking victim.

Shaffer, professor emeritus of economics, said he was moved by a recent Lawrence Journal-World story about Barbara Williams. The 57-year-old Lawrence resident was one of the victims of a Jan. 31 crime spree that included two stolen vehicles and at least four vehicles smashed during a high-speed chase.

Williams, whose 1999 Plymouth Voyager was stolen, had told the Journal-World she is on a fixed income, has only liability insurance and is unsure how she will fix her vehicle.

Shaffer said he started a fund to raise money for a new car for Williams. He started the fund with $50 and is hoping a car dealership might offer a vehicle for Williams at a reduced cost. A brief that ran on Tuesday contained incorrect information about where to send donations. Contributions to the fund should be sent to Douglas County Bank, ATTN: Mail Teller, c/o Barbara Williams Fund, P.O. Box 429, Lawrence, KS 66044.

It's a face she won't soon forget.

Carjacking victim Barbara Trouslot identified Edward Wise on Wednesday as the man who stole her SUV at gunpoint on Jan. 31.

"Oh no, I would remember him," Trouslot said in a Douglas County courtroom. "He was knocking on my passenger-side window with the gun. He screamed at me four or five times, 'Get out of the car or I'll shoot.'"

Trouslot's testimony came during a preliminary hearing for Wise, 23, who is accused of leading officers in two counties on a high-speed chase, stealing two vehicles, causing numerous accidents and assaulting several people at gunpoint before Kansas Highway Patrol troopers subdued him with a Taser.

Prosecutors said the crime spree started shortly after 7 p.m. Jan. 31, when Wise stole a van from a home in North Lawrence.

The van was driven to Leavenworth County. When sheriff's officers there spotted the van shortly before 9 p.m., the chase began.

Leavenworth County deputies chased the suspect back toward North Lawrence, and notified Lawrence police that the van was headed for the city.

Lawrence police officer Kevin Henderson testified he spotted the van on North Third Street - moving as fast as 100 mph.

"I was going approximately 90 mph, and I was barely gaining ground at all," Henderson said.

He said the vehicle crossed the Kansas River Bridge at over 80 mph, drove over a sidewalk to avoid a police car blocking the intersection of Sixth and Vermont streets and continued south on Vermont at speeds up to 80 mph.

Henderson said he watched as the vehicle ran into another car at 11th and Vermont, then continued driving 80 mph in a 30 mph zone south down Massachusetts.

Prosecutors presented evidence that Wise eventually abandoned the van. That's when the encounter took place with Trouslot in the Dairy Queen parking lot, 1835 Mass.

Other police officers who joined the pursuit testified Wise headed downtown in Trouslot's SUV, then crashed into at least two more cars outside the Granada.

Gene Nutt testified he and his wife were crossing Massachusetts street on foot.

"The vehicle was out of control," Nutt said. "There's no question that if we hadn't seen it coming, we would've been hit."

After the vehicle crashed into a planter, Nutt said he and another man began chasing the driver.

"He made it very clear, if we didn't stop chasing him, he was going to shoot," Nutt said.

The men stopped.

Lawrence police officer Hayden Fowler said he encountered Wise holding a gun in his hand, walking down 10th Street.

"I began giving him orders to drop the gun," Fowler said on the stand. "I pretty much had tunnel-vision at that point. He said probably three times, 'I'm not going to shoot you, I'm just going to kill myself.'"

Wise was subdued after a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper stunned him with a Taser.

After listening to the evidence, Judge Michael Malone ordered Wise to stand trial on charges of aggravated robbery, two counts of aggravated assault with a handgun, fleeing and attempting to elude officers, and one count of auto burglary.

The Douglas County District Attorney's office dismissed two charges of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle after testimony showed the vehicle Wise was driving was out of control, and he may not have intentionally tried to strike two pedestrians who had to jump out of the way.

Defense Attorney Craig Stancliffe told the judge in light of the evidence, he wanted his client to undergo a mental health evaluation.

"I'm going to be filing motions," Stancliffe told the judge. "It should be obvious to the court that the actions described here were not rational."

The judge refused Stancliff's request to lower Wise's $250,000 bond and set Wise's arraignment for Feb. 27.

Comments

KSChick1 6 years, 10 months ago

"It should be obvious to the court that the actions described here were not rational."

Gets my vote for Understatement of the Year...

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