Man arrested in 27th Terrace homicide now charged with first-degree murder

In court appearance, defendant says victim broke into his home

Lawrence police officers are pictured outside 2013 W. 27th Terrace, the scene of a fatal shooting shortly before 10 p.m. Sept. 19, 2017.

A man who was initially arrested on suspicion of manslaughter after a fatal shooting in Lawrence — and who claimed the slain man broke into his home — has been formally charged with first-degree murder instead.

Steven A. Drake III, 20, of Lawrence is accused of killing 26-year-old Lawrence resident Bryce S. Holladay, “intentionally and with premeditation,” according to the charges.

Charges were filed and Drake made his first appearance Thursday in Douglas County District Court, via video from the jail.

Steven A. Drake

“I’m begging for the court’s mercy — I’m not a criminal,” Drake said when asked whether he had anything to say about his bond, unfolding a piece of paper and beginning to read from it.

Drake said that he’d come home to someone trying to steal from him. “This man broke into my home. He was not welcomed.”

The judge then cut Drake off, suggesting it was not in his best interest to continue speaking about the incident.

The judge set Drake’s bond at $750,000, the full amount requested by prosecutors, and set his next hearing for Sept. 26.

Asked whether he’d ever had a court appointed attorney in Douglas County, Drake told the judge: “I’ve had a lot of them, and none of them did me any good.”

The judge appointed attorney Angela Keck to represent Drake.

Lawrence police officers responded about 9:50 p.m. Tuesday to a home at 2013 W. 27th Terrace, where they found Holladay fatally shot. Drake was questioned about the incident and arrested on suspicion of voluntary manslaughter. Police did not release any other information about the incident.

Bryce Holladay

The next morning, blood was visible on the concrete outside the front door of the duplex, with more blood a few feet away. A neighbor said that after hearing a single gunshot she went outside and saw paramedics tending to the injured man in the small fenced courtyard around the front door.

In November, Drake was the driver in a fatal pickup truck crash in rural Douglas County. His passenger, 24-year-old Taylor Lister, of Lecompton, died from her injuries in the accident. Drake also was hospitalized.

Drake also received public attention as a 13-year-old, when his father, Steven C. Drake Jr., illegally took him and hid him from his mother for more than a week, the Journal-World previously reported. His father is currently in prison, with convictions of child endangerment, interfering with parental custody, assault, fleeing police and other crimes in Douglas and Jefferson counties, according to Kansas Department of Corrections records.

It’s not clear whether or how Steven A. Drake III and Holladay knew each other.

When he died, Holladay was free on bond awaiting trial in an unrelated auto burglary and theft case, according to Douglas County District Court records.

Last week, prosecutors filed a motion to revoke Holladay’s bond in that case. The state’s motion cited Holladay’s behavior in recent months, including a June incident in which he was charged with domestic battery, resisted arrest by police officers and “appeared to be under the influence of drugs.”

Holladay had been charged in more than a dozen other past criminal cases in Douglas County.