Topeka teen convicted of attempted murder through plea deal in Holcom Park shooting case

photo by: Kansas Public Offender Registry

Sahavione Caraway, left, was recently convicted of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in Douglas County District Court.

One of the two Topeka teens accused in a double shooting at a Lawrence park in 2019 was convicted of attempted murder through a plea deal last month.

Sahavione K. Caraway, now 19, pleaded no contest to one count of attempted first-degree murder, a level-one felony, and one count of aggravated robbery, a level-three felony, according to court records provided to the Journal-World on Wednesday. Caraway entered the plea on Sept. 13 through an agreement with the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office, which dropped an additional count of each of those charges.

A level-one felony comes with a minimum prison sentence of 147 months, or a little more than 12 years, according to the state sentencing guidelines. A level-three felony comes with a minimum sentence of 55 months, or 4.5 years.

According to the plea agreement, the prosecution has asked Judge Sally Pokorny to order the sentences to run concurrently. Caraway is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 20.

Caraway is currently being held in Shawnee County Jail, where he was moved after the conviction. As of Wednesday afternoon, a spokesman for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office had not responded to the Journal-World’s request for information about the transfer.

Caraway’s convictions stem from a double shooting at Holcom Park, located at 27th Street and Lawrence Avenue in southwest Lawrence, on March 29, 2019.

photo by: Sara Shepherd

Lawrence police investigate at the scene of a double shooting on Friday, March 29, 2019, at Holcom Park, in the parking lot at 26th Street and Lawrence Avenue.

Caraway and Benson J. Edwards Jr., who is also 19 now, were accused of shooting two brothers in the park’s parking lot. The brothers, who were 18 and 16 at the time, were both seriously injured.

Edwards and Caraway were each charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder for allegedly shooting both brothers multiple times, plus two counts of aggravated robbery for allegedly stealing vaping cartridges and an iPhone from the brothers, the Journal-World previously reported.

Edwards’ case is scheduled to go to trial on Jan. 31. He was released from custody after posting a $200,000 own-recognizance bond in September 2020, according to court records.

photo by: Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

Benson J. Edwards Jr., pictured in December 2019

Edwards and Caraway were minors at the time of the incident, but former Douglas County District Court Chief Judge Peggy Kittel ruled that they would be tried as adults, noting the seriousness of the brothers’ injuries and the “enormous safety risk” the incident posed to the community, among other reasons, the Journal-World reported.

In that ruling, Kittel also outlined what allegedly happened at the park:

The 16-year-old testified that he and his brother were in a pickup truck when Edwards approached them, began a drug transaction and then turned and nodded to Caraway, who was seated in a nearby car. Caraway then allegedly got out of the car and approached the brothers with a rifle, which the charging document in his case alleges was a Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 — an assault-style rifle.

Caraway and Edwards then proceeded to rob the brothers, the ruling said, and when the brothers realized what was happening, the 18-year-old put the truck in reverse to get away. The ruling said that Caraway then shot the driver, who went unconscious, and that the truck rolled backward through the parking lot until it hit a sign.

Caraway and Edwards then got back in their car and drove up to the truck, and Caraway got out again and told the brothers, “Give me (expletive) everything or I’ll kill you,” the ruling said.

The 18-year-old brother was shot in the heart and lung; the 16-year-old brother was shot in the arm and leg. Both needed surgery, and the 16-year-old has a plate holding his arm together, had a skin graft and was in a wheelchair for three months after surgery on his kneecap.

Officers recovered nine spent bullet casings from the scene, but it was not clear from the ruling whether all the casings came from the same weapon. The brothers were unarmed and “made no threatening moves during the events,” the ruling said. A man who lived nearby reportedly took a photo of Caraway pointing the rifle toward the brothers at point-blank range.

Police apprehended Caraway and Edwards — who were both living at Topeka addresses at the time, though Edwards attended Lawrence High School from August 2016 through January 2019 — as they were heading out of Lawrence and onto Interstate 70 shortly after the incident.

At that time, officers found a handgun in the vehicle as well as a rifle bearing Caraway’s fingerprints. Edwards was in possession of a .32-caliber Tanfoglio Giuseppe handgun, the charging document in his case alleged.

Both were originally taken to the Douglas County Juvenile Detention Center. They remained there until they turned 18, when they were transferred to the adult jail.

According to Kittel’s ruling, Caraway reportedly told a staff member at the Juvenile Detention Center that he should have “just killed the two boys and be done with it.”

“This juvenile blamed God for letting all this happen after he had prayed to God to keep him safe during the robbery,” the ruling said. “This offender stated God put him in this situation where he had to shoot the victims.”

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