Murder trial pushed back to avoid Christmas conflict; defendant accused of shooting man in doorway

photo by: Contributed photo

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 Lawrence man, charged with first-degree murder, had been scheduled to face a jury the week before Christmas.

Now, lawyers are concerned the trial or jury deliberations may take longer, spilling into the following week and causing distractions or travel conflicts for jurors. Christmas Eve is on a Monday this year, with the holiday itself — when the courthouse will be closed — on a Tuesday.

A new trial date for Steven A. Drake III, 21, was set for Jan. 14 instead.

Douglas County District Court Judge Kay Huff approved the delay on Tuesday but warned attorneys that would be the last.

“No further continuances,” Huff said.

Appointed defense attorney Angela Keck and prosecutor Deborah Moody both asked for rescheduling, and Drake agreed to again waive his speedy trial right.

Normally, district court judges’ dockets are busy and it would be unlikely to have a full week available just a month away.

photo by: Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

Steven A. Drake

However, Drake actually had been on Huff’s docket to have a weeklong trial beginning Jan. 14 in another case. The trial in that case — in which Drake is charged with aggravated battery from an unrelated fight months before the homicide — was moved to April 29.

In the murder case, Drake is charged in the Sept. 19, 2017, killing of 26-year-old Lawrence resident Bryce Holladay.

The shooting happened about 9:45 p.m. at Drake’s home, a duplex in the 2000 block of West 27th Terrace. Holladay, whom Drake and his roommates knew, had come inside earlier and was reportedly rummaging through the home and acting bizarrely.

The residents reportedly ordered Holladay to leave, even threatening him with a baseball bat and trying to mace him. After four people allegedly failed to physically shove Holladay out the front door, one resident called police, but before officers arrived Drake retrieved a handgun, pointed it at Holladay’s face and shot him at close range in the doorway.

At a hearing almost a year ago, Drake’s attorney argued that Drake shot in self-defense and should be immune from being charged with a crime under Kansas law. Huff rejected that argument and ordered Drake to stand trial on the first-degree murder charge.

Contact Journal-World public safety reporter Sara Shepherd


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