WRITER: Mackenzie Clark

Lawrence man said devil told him his date needed to die; then he violently attacked her, affidavit alleges

A Lawrence man allegedly told a woman that “the Devil told him she needed to die” before sexually assaulting her and then hitting her twice in the head with a stainless steel skillet as she tried to flee, according to a police affidavit. Donavan Ryan Hiller, 34, was arrested — after being shocked with a Taser — at his home in the early-morning hours of Friday, Aug. 30. He was charged later that day ...

Lengthy Lawrence murder trial could end with hung jury; deliberations to resume Friday

After a second full day of deliberation — bringing their total to about 15 hours since they started Tuesday — jurors considering a verdict in a Lawrence murder trial had not come to a conclusion by 5 p.m. Thursday. On one count with which Rontarus Washington Jr. is charged, it seems the devil may be in the details. On the other, jurors might not be able to come to a unanimous decision. Washington, 23, ...

Mistrial declared in alleged robbery, shooting at Lawrence’s Parnell Park

A judge declared a mistrial Tuesday in the case of a man accused in a January 2018 shooting at Lawrence’s Parnell Park. Michael A. Hormell, 20, is charged in connection with an alleged robbery attempt that resulted in a 17-year-old being shot and flown to a hospital in critical condition. The teen later stabilized. The case had been scheduled for a jury trial Monday through Friday of this week, but “the ...

Jury continues deliberating in Lawrence murder trial; will resume Thursday

A jury on Wednesday did not reach a verdict in a Lawrence murder trial nearly five years in the making. The 12 jurors on the panel, plus three alternates, have spent the past three and a half weeks hearing evidence, testimony and arguments. They must decide whether they are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant bludgeoned and stabbed 19-year-old Justina Altamirano Mosso to death on or about ...

Longtime Cedarwood resident may have seen Lawrence murder victim kissing an unknown man, he testifies

A longtime resident of Lawrence’s Cedarwood Apartments testified Tuesday that he saw a woman kiss an unknown man outside of apartment 13 about a week before her slain body was found inside its bathroom. David Brown, who lived on the building’s third floor back in November 2014 when Justina Altamirano Mosso was murdered, testified that he told police he had seen a woman kissing and embracing a tall, ...

Prosecutor rehashes defendant’s story's 'progression,' defense emphasizes passion in closing arguments for Lawrence murder trial

In closing arguments in a long-running Lawrence murder case, prosecutor C.J. Rieg portrayed defendant Rontarus Washington Jr. as an untrustworthy person who changed his story every time he spoke to police, both before and after they accused him of killing Justina Altamirano Mosso. Defense attorney Adam Hall, however, emphasized the shortcomings he saw in the law enforcement investigation into a crime he said ...

Detective: Husband’s phone was en route to Manhattan at time of Lawrence murder victim’s death

Story updated at 7:34 p.m. Monday, Sept. 30: A detective who analyzed phone records in a Lawrence murder case found three key points in the data, which he shared with a jury in Douglas County District Court Monday. Firstly, former Lawrence Police Department Detective Scott Slifer testified that evidence shows the husband of a Lawrence murder victim was en route to Manhattan on Friday, Nov. 7, 2014, the day ...

Man sentenced to nearly 3 years in prison in Lawrence cable box battery theft case

A Topeka man who pleaded guilty to charges of felony theft and criminal damage in a case involving stolen cable box batteries was sentenced Tuesday in Douglas County District Court to two years and eight months in prison. The judge sentenced Quentin Raymond Sowers, 50, to 14 months in prison for one count of felony theft, Cheryl Wright Kunard, assistant to the district attorney, told the Journal-World via ...

Former volunteer KU volleyball assistant coach sentenced to 60 days in jail, then probation for stealing intimate items from players

Story updated at 6:01 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27: A judge on Friday sentenced a former University of Kansas volunteer assistant volleyball coach to probation for burglarizing players’ homes and stealing intimate items. He is also prohibited from coaching any sports. Skyler Yee, 24, of Overland Park, was sentenced Friday to 24 months of probation for two felony counts of burglary of a dwelling. He has an ...

Defendant and victim’s husband left prints on toilet tank lid used as weapon in Lawrence murder

A jury learned Friday that two prints were found on fragments of a toilet tank lid used as a murder weapon: one from the defendant and another from the victim’s husband. Also, a detective with bloodstain pattern analysis expertise testified, a footwear impression in blood found at the crime scene would have required that the wearer step close to the body of 19-year-old Justina Altamirano Mosso. Rontarus ...

Iola man pleads no contest in hit-and-run crash on 23rd Street

A 25-year-old Iola man has pleaded no contest in connection with a hit-and-run accident that occurred in Lawrence more than two years ago. Andrew A. Walden admitted to police that he rear-ended a broken-down Dodge Neon that several people were trying to push in the lanes of the 900 block of West 23rd Street, then kept on driving, according to a police affidavit in the case. That was just before 1 a.m. May 19, ...

Baldwin City man charged with promoting sale of sex

Story updated at 6:25 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26: A Baldwin City man was charged Wednesday with convincing someone to sell sexual relations, according to court documents. James Ryan Reynolds, 43, was arrested at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11 at an address in the 2300 block of West 31st Street, according to the Douglas County Jail booking log. He was released a couple of hours later on $2,000 cash or surety ...

Expert: Partial DNA on Lawrence murder victim’s nail could link to 1 in 2,000 men

Jurors in a Lawrence murder trial on Thursday heard about the partial DNA evidence that prosecutors say links 23-year-old Rontarus Washington Jr. to the crime. However, they also heard that this particular bit of partial DNA could be found in a frequency of roughly 1 in 2,000 men in the general population, plus any of Washington’s paternal male relatives. Experts testified about the forensic evidence in ...

Man sexually battered woman at Lawrence liquor store, affidavit alleges; case to go to trial

A man has been charged and bound over for trial after allegedly inappropriately touching a woman who was a stranger to him at a Lawrence liquor store. Gerald L. Pamaska, 51, was charged Aug. 29 with sexual battery, a midlevel-severity felony, court records indicate. The Journal-World requested and on Monday received the police affidavit supporting Pamaska’s arrest. Allegations in affidavits have not been ...

Lawrence murder defendant tells police he walked in on body, then they accuse him, video shows

Story updated at 8:34 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25: Rontarus Washington Jr. told police he knew that a woman murdered in his apartment complex had to have been beaten or stabbed to death. There was blood everywhere, and the images haunted him in his sleep. He had seen someone get shot, then-18-year-old Washington told detectives during an interview, and he knew that wasn’t what killed the woman. His cousin had ...

Neighbors: Defendant in Lawrence murder case requested ride out of state; victim and husband often had screaming arguments

The day after a 19-year-old woman was murdered in 2014, her neighbor — the man accused of killing her — reportedly asked another man in their apartment building for a ride across the country. William Enick, a resident of Cedarwood Apartments’ first floor back in 2014, testified Tuesday that Rontarus Washington Jr., now 23, had come to his door on Nov. 8, 2014. Washington said he was in trouble and they ...

Lawrence man to face trial for alleged rape of unconscious woman

A judge on Monday bound a man over for trial for allegedly raping an acquaintance while she slept in September 2018. Gregory E. Esquivel, now 23, also pleaded not guilty Monday to one felony charge of rape, according to information from Cheryl Wright Kunard, assistant to the district attorney. The Journal-World has reported that the alleged victim, a 22-year-old woman, told police in September 2018 that she ...

Coroner testifies that Lawrence homicide victim likely died of blood loss from multiple stab wounds and other cuts

Story updated at 6:04 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23: The former Douglas County coroner testified Monday that the likely cause of death for a 19-year-old homicide victim was blood loss from many stab wounds, slices and punctures on her head, neck, hands and knees. Dr. Erik Mitchell showed the jury diagrams, then photos, of several wounds to the body of Justina Altamirano Mosso, who was found bludgeoned and stabbed to ...

Man arrested, charged in connection with reported robbery in southwestern Lawrence

Story updated at 8:35 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19: Lawrence police have arrested a man in connection with a reported armed robbery, according to the Douglas County Jail booking log. Lawson R. Marshall, 20, of Lawrence, was arrested Thursday evening at an apartment in the 4300 block of West 24th Place on suspicion of armed robbery, jail records show. He was charged Friday in Douglas County District Court with ...

Co-worker of murder victim’s husband lied to Lawrence police, he says; footwear impression expert testifies

Co-workers of a Lawrence murder victim’s husband testified Friday about the day 19-year-old Justina Altamirano Mosso’s body was found, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. One admitted that he lied to police during his interview; the other said the victim's husband looked guilty. Authorities believe 19-year-old Mosso was killed the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 7, 2014. She was found bludgeoned and stabbed to death, slumped ...