Defendant to claim self-defense in 2017 deadly shooting at Eudora bar
photo by: Mike Yoder
Story updated 7:07 p.m. July 24, 2018:
Prosecutors and defense attorneys offered vastly different explanations Tuesday of what happened in the early-morning hours of June 24, 2017, when an argument at a Eudora bar turned into a melee and, eventually, a fatal shooting.
During opening statements in the trial of Danny W. Queen, Assistant District Attorney Bryant Barton said Queen acted with premeditation when he pulled out a gun and fired a hollow-point bullet through the chest of 32-year-old Bo Hopson, inflicting a wound that would eventually kill him.
Barton also said Queen, 37, acted with premeditation when he pointed that same weapon at two other people and tried unsuccessfully to shoot them.
But defense attorney Dakota Loomis said Queen would testify in his own defense to say he was acting in self-defense after being beaten nearly unconscious by eight other people as he was being ejected from D-Dubs Bar and Grill, 10 W. Ninth St., in Eudora.
“I want to stomp that guy’s head,” were the words Loomis said Queen heard, prompting him to reach for a handgun he kept in his pocket and to fire.
“The only evidence about what was going on in his head will come from Queen himself,” Loomis said.
The opening statements began Tuesday morning after attorneys in the case selected seven men and six women to serve on the jury. The 13-member jury includes one alternate.
Queen is charged with one count of first-degree murder in the death of Hopson, who was a security worker at the bar, plus two counts of attempted first-degree murder for allegedly attempting to fire at the other two men.
Barton said the jury would see security video of the entire event that occurred that night, including an altercation inside the bar, efforts to escort Queen out of the bar after he had made lewd comments to a female patron, the brawl that occurred later and, eventually, the shooting.
“There is no doubt Danny Queen shot and killed Bo Hopson,” Barton said in his opening statement. “Evidence presented by the state this week will prove charges beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Loomis said Queen carried a small-caliber handgun for self-defense, but that if he had gone to the bar with the intent to harm others, he had plenty of other, more powerful weapons with larger-capacity magazines at his home just two blocks away.
He described Queen as a 13-year Army veteran who was honorably discharged for medical reasons and who was trained in the use of firearms. Loomis said that Queen was doing well at his job at General Dynamics Information Technology in Lawrence, where he worked as a call center supervisor, that he was being considered for promotion and that he was not under any outside emotional or financial stress.
Clark Orth, one of the two people whom Queen allegedly pointed his gun at but was unable to shoot, was the first witness to testify Tuesday. He gave the following account of the incident:
Orth said he had been in the bar about 45 minutes before the shooting happened but had spent most of his time on a deck outside the main building. When he came back inside to pay his tab, he heard Queen make vulgar comments toward one of the female patrons.
A female bartender then told Queen to leave, but Queen refused to do so. Queen then pointed both hands toward his groin, Orth said.
At one point, Queen, who was seated at the bar, fell over backwards in his chair, Orth said. Hopson and a few other patrons then came to pick him up and escort him out of the bar.
They exited through a patio off a side of the building, down a ramp leading to the parking lot. But before they reached the bottom, Orth said, Queen and one of the patrons — the husband of the woman who’d been insulted — rushed at each other and a fight ensued.
Several people came and tried to pull the two men apart. Queen was pulled over to a flatbed trailer in the parking lot where a band had been performing earlier in the night. One man lifted Queen up and laid him down on the trailer, and Queen remained there for several minutes.
Orth and Hopson both stood there while other people involved in the altercation went back inside the bar. Orth said he saw Queen reach into his right pocket and pull out a cell phone, but that Queen did not make a call or send a text message.
Orth said Hopson asked Queen several times whether he needed a ride home or wanted to call somebody, but Queen did not reply. Then, Orth said, Queen reached into his right pocket, pulled out a handgun and fired, hitting Hopson in the chest.
Orth ran around to the far side of the trailer and then heard a second shot being fired. Then, Orth said, Queen pointed the gun at him, but he only heard a click and the gun did not fire. Orth said he then crawled under the trailer to hide.
Orth said he never heard anyone say “I want to stomp his head,” or any words to that effect.
Dustin Crowe, the second witness to testify, said he heard the shots from the deck area and initially thought they were firecrackers.
Crowe said he went out to see what had happened and saw Orth crawl under the trailer. Crowe said Queen then pointed the gun at him and tried to fire. He said he thought he saw a muzzle flash and heard a bang, but he was not hit. He said Queen continued trying to fire, but the gun had evidently jammed.
Crowe said he then tackled Queen to the ground and began punching him in the back of the head while other patrons joined in the fight. He said he believes Queen lost consciousness. After pulling himself back up, Crowe said, “I kicked him in the face.”
Hopson was later transported to the University of Kansas hospital, where he underwent two surgical procedures. His sister, Kasi Stevens, testified that she visited him the next morning and again later that afternoon. She said Hopson seemed in good spirits at the time.
Hopson died the following morning, June 25, from complications following surgery.
The trial is scheduled to resume Wednesday morning and continue through Friday.