Defendant in Lawrence doorway murder case gets new attorney, trial date in early 2022

photo by: Sara Shepherd

Steven A. Drake III appears in Douglas County District Court during a hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019.

After recently rejecting a plea agreement in a 2017 first-degree murder case, a Lawrence man now has a new attorney and a new trial date.

The Douglas County District Court on Tuesday appointed attorney Hatem Chahine to represent Steven A. Drake III, 24, in a trial now scheduled to begin on Feb. 14, 2022, according to court records. Chahine was appointed to take over the case after Judge Kay Huff allowed Drake’s former counsel, KiAnn Caprice Spradlin, to withdraw from the case.

Spradlin’s withdrawal comes just weeks after Drake rejected a plea agreement she had negotiated with prosecutors, which would have seen Drake plead no contest to voluntary manslaughter and two charges of aggravated battery. A court hearing was scheduled for a plea hearing on the agreement, but Drake refused to appear in court, the Journal-World previously reported.

The proposed agreement showed the prosecutors and defense would have asked the court to sentence Drake to a total of 143 months in prison, which is just under 12 years. But by rejecting the agreement, Drake continues to face the first-degree murder charge, which could result in a “Hard 50” sentence of life in prison without the possibility for parole for 50 years if he is convicted.

He is accused of shooting 26-year-old Bryce S. Holladay to death on Sept. 19, 2017, in the doorway of Drake’s home in the 2000 block of West 27th Terrace. As the Journal-World previously reported, Drake told a 911 dispatcher that he had just shot Holladay in the face because he wouldn’t get out of his house.

Drake has already been sentenced in another case. In June 2019, Drake pleaded no contest to attempted aggravated battery, a lower-severity felony than the aggravated battery charge he was facing, the Journal-World previously reported. Drake was accused of beating a 16-year-old boy in a fight, causing a serious head injury, on July 8, 2017. Huff sentenced Drake to 570 days in prison for the conviction.

Drake is also facing a vehicular manslaughter charge, which is a misdemeanor, in connection with a deadly crash on Nov. 6, 2016, just north of Clinton Lake. Taylor B. Lister, 24, of Lecompton, was killed in the crash. That case is set to go to trial in August, according to court records.

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