Jury selection will continue for third day in Massachusetts Street murder trial

photo by: Sara Shepherd

Seated next to his appointed attorneys, Anthony L. Roberts Jr. looks back at relatives in the gallery during a hearing on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, in Douglas County District Court.

Updated story

June 25 — Jury finds Topeka man guilty of 3 downtown Lawrence murders


The process of choosing the people who will decide the case of Anthony L. Roberts Jr. — the Topeka man charged with three murders in the 2017 shootings on Massachusetts Street — will continue into a third day.

After the second day of jury selection for the trial, about 60 potential jurors remained in the group at the end of the day Tuesday afternoon. Selection will continue Wednesday morning in Judge Sally Pokorny’s courtroom in Douglas County District Court.

District Attorney Charles Branson began his part of the voir dire process, or questioning of potential jurors, Tuesday afternoon. Previously attorneys questioned numerous jurors privately in the judge’s chambers.

The trial is scheduled to last two weeks.

Roberts, 22, is charged with two counts of first-degree felony murder, one count of second-degree murder, and one count of attempted second-degree murder in the Oct. 1, 2017, incident.

It was bar-closing time, about 1:40 a.m., on a busy weekend night in downtown Lawrence when a fistfight and then a spray of close to 20 gunshots broke out on the northwest corner of 11th and Massachusetts streets.

Hit and killed by the bullets were Leah Elizabeth Brown, 22, of Shawnee; Colwin Lynn Henderson III, 20, of Topeka; and Tre’Mel Dupree Dean-Rayton, 24, of Topeka. Royelle Hunt and Tahzay Rayton, both of Topeka, were shot but survived.

Brown, who’d just left a nearby bar, was the only victim who knew no one involved. According to previous testimony in the case, the fighting started between groups of Topeka men with prior bad blood.

Roberts’ trial initially got underway in November, but that trial was called off when the judge declared a mistrial four days into jury selection because his first attorney tainted the jury pool with misstatements and inappropriate questioning.

Afterward, the judge appointed Roberts new attorneys and split his trial from that of his two co-defendants, both of whom were charged with less severe crimes. Ahmad M. Rayton, 23, and Dominique J. McMillon, 20, both of Topeka, have since pleaded to lesser charges and been sentenced.

More coverage from trial

• June 24 — Jury deliberating intentional murder versus self-defense

• June 21 — Defendant says he fired wildly in fear, ‘wasn’t thinking at all’

• June 20 — Defendant: ‘I been shot twice’ in Topeka, came to Lawrence to party without fear of violence

• June 19 — Testimony: 15 shell casings from scene were all fired from defendant’s gun, 2 victims were shot in the back

• June 18 — Witness says defendant told her, ‘I shot Colwin’

• June 17 — Shooting survivor, friend of defendant testify reluctantly

• June 14 — Eyewitness testifies he saw triple murder defendant, second man shooting on Mass. Street

• June 13 — Witnesses at trial describe immediate aftermath of triple homicide

• June 12 — Prosecutors say defendant came to ‘settle a score’ and murdered 3 in melee; he argues he fired in self-defense

photo by: Contributed photos

From left, Leah Elizabeth Brown, 22, of Shawnee; Tre’Mel Dupree Dean-Rayton, 24, of Topeka; and Colwin Lynn Henderson III, 20, of Topeka.

Contact Journal-World public safety reporter Sara Shepherd


Previous coverage: Downtown Lawrence triple murder trial

• June 10 — Massachusetts Street triple murder trial begins in Lawrence

• May 31 — Witness, evidence issues addressed at pretrial hearing in Massachusetts Street triple murder case

• May 13 — After plea deals in downtown Lawrence triple-murder case, DA wants co-defendants to testify against friend

• May 8 — Topeka man sentenced to 10 years in prison for role in Massachusetts Street shootings

• April 3 — Second co-defendant convicted following plea deal in Massachusetts Street murder case

• March 8 — Judge rejects Lawrence triple-murder defendant’s self-defense claim

• March 5 — One co-defendant in downtown Lawrence triple murder case now free after pleading to misdemeanor

• Jan. 11 — Massachusetts Street triple murder trial pushed back until June

• Dec. 4 — After attorney drama in Lawrence triple murder trial, new defense team ready to move forward

• Nov. 20 — Citing ‘incompetence,’ judge kicks attorney off downtown Lawrence triple murder case

• Nov. 16 — Defense attorney tainted jury pool, causing mistrial in downtown Lawrence triple murder case, transcript reveals

• Nov. 15 — Judge: Defense attorney’s demand to disqualify DA from triple murder trial was ‘totally misplaced’

• Nov. 9 — Each defendant in downtown triple murder case will now have his own trial; family of shooting victim ‘devastated’

• Nov. 8 — Mass. Street triple murder trial called off: Judge declares mistrial before jury is picked

• Nov. 7 — Still no jury after 3 days of jury selection for downtown Lawrence triple murder trial

• Nov. 6 — Jury selection spills into third day for Massachusetts Street triple murder trial; media coverage of high-profile case factors into questioning

• Nov. 5 — About 170 potential jurors fill courthouse to begin selection process for downtown Lawrence triple murder trial

• Nov. 1 — Murder defendant’s attorney, DAs clash in ‘cringeworthy’ final hearing before Mass. Street trial

• Oct. 31 — In last-minute filing, Mass. Street triple murder defendant wants DA disqualified from upcoming trial

• Oct. 19 — Lawyer says Massachusetts Street triple murder defendant plans to argue self-defense, slain men shouldn’t be called victims

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