A Douglas County judge Tuesday scheduled a December preliminary hearing for a Mission man who faces an involuntary manslaughter charge in connection with the February death of a 27-year-old Lawrence man.
Attorneys said in court Tuesday they expected the hearing for Justin Paul Gonzalez, 21, to take two days primarily due to the dozens of witnesses in the case. Gonzalez is charged in connection with the death of Nicholas J. Sardina, an Iraq War veteran and a former student at both Kansas University and Kansas State University, following a fight near 14th and Kentucky streets.
Defense attorney Sarah Swain said in court Tuesday she was still reviewing evidence and that she expected to consult with expert witnesses as part of the defense’s investigation.
Lawrence police said Sardina died at a residence in the 1500 block of Tennessee Street the afternoon of Feb. 25. Police determined he was involved in a fight hours earlier in the 300 block of West 14th Street. Sardina’s girlfriend, Darcy Singleton, said in February that she had received a text message from Sardina at 3:45 a.m. Feb. 25 that said he had been involved in a scuffle and had a bottle broken over his head.
District Judge Peggy Kittel during the preliminary hearing will determine if there’s enough evidence for Gonzalez to face a trial on the charge. The hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. Dec. 18., and the judge said she hoped it would conclude by the afternoon of Dec. 20.
Sardina was originally from Clarence, N.Y. He was a sergeant in the Kansas National Guard and had served three tours in Iraq in 2006 and 2007 with the Army’s 1st Infantry Division based at Fort Riley.