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Archive for Friday, May 23, 2008

Suspect in musician’s killing to appear in court

May 23, 2008

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A suspect in the 2006 shooting death of a local hip-hop musician has been returned to Douglas County to face a murder charge.

Major C. Edwards Jr., 29, Lawrence, has been moved from a federal prison in Leavenworth to Douglas County Jail and is being held on one count each of first-degree murder and possession of depressants, stimulants or hallucinogenics, as well as seven counts of failure to appear in court.

Edwards will appear in Lawrence Municipal Court at 10:30 a.m. today on four of the failure to appear charges. And at 3 p.m. today, he has a court appearance on the murder and drug charges, as well as the remaining failure to appear charges.

Edwards and a Topeka man, Durell A. Jones 23, Kansas City, Kan., are charged in the murder of Lawrence hip-hop musician Anthony "Clacc" Vital, 28. Vital's body was found in October 2006 on a private country lane 2 miles west of Lawrence. Vital died from multiple gunshot wounds.

Jones was sentenced May 12 in federal court to 125 months in prison on charges of possession with intent to sell cocaine. Jones remains in federal custody, but it is expected he will return to Douglas County to face charges.

After Vital's murder, Edwards - also known as "Ja Ja" - was identified as a person of interest in the case and later was arrested near Tupelo, Miss., on federal gun charges. In January, Edwards pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of unlawful possession of a sawed-off shotgun and in April he was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison.

Douglas County officials have said they believe Edwards and Jones are the only people who will be charged in the murder case.

Vital, who was born in Lake Charles, La., moved to Lawrence in 1996. At the time of his death he was a member of a local hip-hop group called DaBombSquad. He used the name Clacc.

Edwards also was in the music business, according to federal court documents. Sheriff's officers began looking at Edwards after Vital's wife told them that the last time she'd seen her husband - about 9 p.m. the night before his body was found - he was leaving their home to go out with Edwards, those documents revealed.

Federal court documents also outlined how officers were led to a Lawrence residence where Edwards was staying. They found bullets and an empty gun case. A woman told officers she purchased a .22-caliber handgun for Edwards under an altered name at an Ottawa pawn shop. She later went back to the pawn shop and traded the .22 for a .38-caliber pistol. An informant told officers Edwards was seen with a .38. Edwards had been convicted of sale of cocaine and, therefore, wasn't legally allowed to have a gun.

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