Rontarus Washington Jr. arrested on suspicion of multiple felonies, including armed robbery, assault and battery

photo by: Shawnee County Adult Detention Center

Rontarus Washington Jr.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25

A former Lawrence man who was previously a defendant in a long-running murder case was arrested Thursday night in Topeka on multiple felony counts, including assault, battery and armed robbery.

The man, Rontarus Washington Jr., 27, of Topeka, was booked into the Shawnee County Jail at 11:20 p.m. Thursday on suspicion of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery, aggravated armed robbery, theft from a building, battery on a law enforcement officer and interference with a law enforcement officer. His bond has been set at $155,000 cash or surety, according to Shawnee County Jail booking records.

According to Topeka police, officers in the area of Oakmart, a convenience store at 2518 NE Seward Ave., observed an individual run from the business at about 10 p.m. After speaking with an Oakmart employee, police believed that the individual, later identified as Washington, had just committed a robbery.

Officers obtained a description of the suspect, and Topeka K9 officers, as well as drone operators from the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Department, searched for the suspect, who was eventually located in the area, taken into custody and transported to the Topeka Law Enforcement Center to speak with detectives.

Washington spent more than five years in the Douglas County Jail charged with the murder of Justina Altamirano Mosso, 19, whose body was found Nov. 9, 2014, at her Lawrence apartment after she had been repeatedly bludgeoned and stabbed.

Washington was tried for the killing, but a jury could not agree on a verdict. A second prosecution was pending until the murder case was dismissed without prejudice on Dec. 22, 2021, by current District Attorney Suzanne Valdez, about a year after she was elected as DA. The case remains unsolved.

Washington’s murder case was the subject of community protests in the summer of 2020. Ultimately, a judge lowered his bond from $750,000 to $500,000, and he was able to bond out of jail with financial help from community members who believed he was being unjustly accused and that race was a factor in his arrest.

Washington has a federal lawsuit for wrongful incarceration pending in that case, as the Journal-World has reported.


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