Preliminary hearing delayed for women charged in Eudora man’s death; prosecutor cites conflict with separate murder trial

Defendant Tria Evans, 38, of Lawrence, second from right, stands with her attorney, Carol Cline, during an appearance before Judge Kay Huff on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, in Douglas County District Court. Also pictured is Christina Towell, 37, of Leavenworth, far left, next to her attorney, Michael Clarke. The two are accused of killing Joel Wales, whose body was found in a burning home.

A preliminary hearing for two women charged with murdering a Eudora man has been pushed back six weeks.

The March 29 joint hearing for Tria L. Evans and Christina L. Towell was rescheduled for all day on May 11.

Douglas County District Court Judge Kay Huff on Tuesday agreed to prosecutor Amy McGowan’s request to continue the women’s joint preliminary hearing.

McGowan also is prosecuting a weeklong jury trial in a different murder case beginning two business days later. In a motion, McGowan cited that obligation plus the “lengthy investigation” yielding “a large amount of circumstantial evidence” in Evans’ and Towell’s cases.

The judge arrived at the May 11 date after trying several other dates that either did not work for either the judge, the prosecutor or one of the two defense attorneys. Noting speedy trial deadlines, Huff added, “There are not going to be any more continuances.”

A crew works Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, on the porch of a house at 1104 East 1200 Road where the body of 34-year-old Joel Wales, of Eudora, was found Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, when firefighters and the Douglas County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of a fire and gunshots.

The body of Joel Wales, 34, of Eudora, was discovered shortly after 9:30 p.m. Nov. 3, 2017, inside his mother’s house at 1104 East 1200 Road, just south of Lawrence.

Evans, 38, of Lawrence, and Towell, 37, of Leavenworth, are both charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, arson and aggravated burglary.

An affidavit prepared by law enforcement alleges that they conspired to kill Wales — who is the father of one of Evans’ children — and cover it up by setting the house on fire. The affidavit, which says Wales died of multiple gunshot wounds, also alleges that Towell picked up Evans and drove her to and away from the scene of the crime that night.

Evans and Towell each remain jailed on $1 million bond.

The murder trial scheduled to begin April 2 is that of Danny W. Queen, 36, of Eudora, charged in the June 2017 shooting death of Bo M. Hopson, 32, of Eudora, outside a Eudora bar.