Lawrence teen charged with first-degree murder after extradition from Tennessee

photo by: Contributed

Andrel Darnell Spates Jr.

Updated at 4:35 p.m. Monday

A Lawrence man who was suspected of being involved in a fatal shooting in central Lawrence last month was formally charged with murder on Monday.

Andrel Darnell Spates Jr., 19, was charged with first-degree murder, distribution of a controlled substance and criminal possession of a firearm by a felon during his first appearance in Douglas County District Court on Monday. The murder charge is an off-grid felony, meaning if Spates is convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

Spates was booked into the Douglas County Jail around 7 p.m. Sunday after he was extradited back to Kansas, a spokesman for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said. Authorities for the U.S. Marshals Service arrested Spates in Three Way, Tenn., on Oct. 6 on suspicion of first-degree murder in the death of 21-year-old Christian Willis, of Wichita.

As the Journal-World previously reported, the shooting took place around 7:15 p.m. Sept. 8 in the 1500 block of Kentucky Street. Willis was pronounced dead at the scene. According to the booking log, Spates’ residential address is in the 1500 block of Kentucky Street.

During the hearing on Monday, Judge James T. George set a $1 million cash or surety bond. A prosecuting attorney for the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office told the court that Spates had previously fled the state and is considered a flight and public safety risk. He is scheduled to next appear in court on Nov. 2.

Spates is the second person to be arrested in the case. Javier Romero, 18, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in September. Romero is also in custody on a $1 million bond.

Earlier this year, Spates was convicted of attempted aggravated robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery for a 2019 juvenile case, according to court records. He was sentenced a week prior to the alleged murder to time served, records show.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office declined to provide the Journal-World with Spates’ booking photo.

photo by: Kim Callahan/Journal-World

Lawrence police work the scene Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in the 1500 block of Kentucky Street after a fatal shooting occurred. The victim was later identified as a 21-year-old Wichita man named Christian Willis.

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