Long-running shooting case set to be the first trial in Douglas County since COVID-19 pandemic began

photo by: Journal-World file photo

Defense attorney Shaye Downing, standing, speaks in Douglas County District Court for her client Michael A. Hormell, seated, during a hearing on Jan. 7, 2020.

A long-running shooting case is scheduled to go to trial early next month, which could make it the first trial in the county’s district court in more than a year.

Michael Hormell, 21, has a trial scheduled for April 5. He is charged with attempted second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit aggravated battery and criminal discharge of a firearm in a 2018 shooting incident.

During a hearing on Wednesday, Deputy District Attorney Joshua Seiden said the case was expected to be the first trial since COVID-19-related shutdowns began in March 2020.

The trial will take place at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, despite efforts by both the prosecutors and the defense to move it to the usual location for jury trials, the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center. Judge Amy Hanley denied those requests. She said that because of the pandemic, the Kansas Supreme Court ordered courts to resume trials in locations where people could maintain social distancing, and she said that would not be possible in her courtroom at the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center.

The shooting in which Hormell is accused happened around 5 p.m. Jan. 26, 2018, at Parnell Park, 901 E. 15th St. Hormell was 18 at the time of the incident. According to the police affidavit in the case, Hormell and his then-girlfriend, Ardyn D. Pannell, set up a drug buy with plans to rob the seller, another teen. However, the teen fought back and Hormell shot him, the affidavit alleges. The teen was flown to an area hospital in critical condition and later stabilized, the Journal-World reported.

The case had been scheduled for a weeklong trial beginning September 2019. However, the jury panel was sworn before objections could be heard and the judge dismissed the entire panel and declared a mistrial, according to information from the DA’s office.

photo by: Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

Michael A. Hormell, pictured in December 2019

Another trial in the case was then scheduled to begin in March 2020, but the pandemic forced it to be put on hold, Hanley said Wednesday.

Hormell is also facing charges in other pending cases. In January 2020, Hormell was bound over for trial on a charge of criminal discharge of a firearm. A home in the 700 block of Arkansas Street was hit by gunfire that investigators believed to be from a shotgun on Jan. 6, 2018, and prosecutors allege that it was Hormell who fired the shots.

In February 2020, Hormell was released from the Douglas County Jail on a $100,000 surety bond, but he was arrested again in April 2020, this time on suspicion of armed robbery, the Journal-World reported. According to court records, he is charged with aggravated robbery and criminal possession of a firearm in that case. Hormell remains in custody at the Douglas County Jail.

The trials for these other cases are set to take place in June and July, according to court records.

Hormell was also previously convicted and sentenced to time served in a separate case in which a jury on Aug. 26, 2019, found him guilty of firing into a home in the 400 block of North Street on Jan. 24, 2018. Five adults and two children were inside, but nobody was injured, the Journal-World reported.

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