Preliminary hearing for downtown Lawrence triple murder case pushed back a month

Judge cites ‘voluminous’ amount of discovery

From left, Anthony L. Roberts Jr., Ahmad M. Rayton and Dominique J. McMillon will appear in Douglas County District Court for charges related to the Oct. 1, 2017 triple murder on Massachusetts Street.

Three Topeka men charged in connection with the downtown Lawrence triple homicide will not have their preliminary hearing this week.

The hearing has been pushed back more than a month, and is now slated to last two days instead of one.

Law enforcement recently gave the Douglas County district attorney’s office a new data dump in the case — too much information to copy, share with defense attorneys and review before Thursday, when the preliminary hearing had been scheduled.

On Monday, Judge Sally Pokorny approved the DA’s request to continue the preliminary hearing based on the “voluminous amount of discovery that’s come in,” she said.

She rescheduled the hearing for Jan. 11 and Jan. 19, split because there weren’t two back-to-back days that the judge and all attorneys were available.

Lawrence police investigate the scene of a shooting incident on Massachusetts Street between 10th and 11th streets that left three people dead and injured others early Sunday morning.

DA Charles Branson said that in late November, the Lawrence Police Department turned over about two dozen discs containing information in the case to his office. Branson said his office was in the process of copying those files for the three defense attorneys and, as of Monday morning, still hadn’t finished doing so.

The reason the large amount of information is coming to the DA’s office now — two months after the killings happened and more than a month after the three defendants were charged — is that “there is continuing investigation,” Branson’s assistant Cheryl Wright Kunard said in an email response to questions from the Journal-World.

She declined to answer what type of information was in the new batch of discovery but said that, in general, the DA’s office receives “reports generated by law enforcement officers and regarding evidence that has been gathered” as part of the process.

The shootings happened about 1:40 a.m. Oct. 1 at the intersection of 11th and Massachusetts streets, where, police say, a flurry of gunfire erupted from a physical altercation. A Shawnee woman and two Topeka men were killed by the gunfire, and two other Topeka men were hurt.

Anthony L. Roberts Jr., 20, is charged with one count of first-degree felony murder in the death of Leah Brown, 22; two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Colwin Lynn Henderson, 20, and Tre’Mel Dupree Dean-Rayton, 24; and one count of attempted second-degree murder for allegedly shooting Tahzay Rayton two times.

Topeka-based attorney Jennifer Chaffee is representing Roberts. He remains jailed on $1 million bond.

Ahmad M. Rayton, 22, is charged with one count of attempted second-degree murder for allegedly shooting Royelle Hunt in the leg. He is also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Rayton, whose appointed attorney is Michael Clarke, is jailed on $1 million bond.

Dominique J. McMillon, 19, is charged with one count of aggravated assault for allegedly threatening a person named Robert Wheeler with a gun, and one count of battery, also against Wheeler.

McMillon is being held on $25,000 bond. His appointed attorney is J.C. Gilroy.