Kansas Supreme Court reverses murder conviction

TOPEKA — The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday reversed the first-degree murder conviction of a Wichita man who shot another man during a botched drug deal.

Mark Holley III was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2019 for the shooting death of 18-year-old D’Shaun Smith in 2017. Holley argued he shot Smith in self-defense after Smith aimed at a gun at him and tried to rob him after a marijuana deal fell through.

The court ruled the Sedgwick County District Court committed reversible error when it did not include a self-defense instruction during jury instructions. The court said a self-defense instruction was “legally and factually appropriate in the case.”

The court upheld Holley’s conviction on two child endangerment charges arising from a separate incident that occurred about a month before Smith’s death. Prosecutors said Holley tried to rob a man while the victim’s two young children were in the backseat of his car.

The murder conviction and sentence were sent back to Sedgwick County District Court for further court proceedings.


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