Lawrence man ordered to stand trial in 2022 double homicide

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Rodney E. Marshall is pictured Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024, at a hearing in Douglas County District Court.

A Lawrence man accused of killing two people in 2022 and firing a gun at police during a car chase was ordered Thursday to stand trial on multiple counts of murder and attempted murder.

Rodney E. Marshall, 52, is charged in Douglas County District Court with two counts of first-degree murder, three counts of attempted capital murder of a law enforcement officer, one count of attempted murder of a civilian, two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and one count of attempting to elude police, according to new charging documents filed just before Thursday’s hearing. The charges are in connection with the shooting deaths of William D. O’Brien, 43, of Lawrence, and Shelby McCoy, 52, of Lawrence, on July 31, 2022, at separate locations.

Judge Amy Hanley ordered Marshall to stand trial on all nine counts after a preliminary hearing that was split across multiple days.

As the Journal-World reported, police believe Marshall killed McCoy in the 1100 block of Tennessee Street, then drove a moped across town to shoot O’Brien in the 300 block of Northwood Lane before fleeing from police and shooting at pursuing officers.

Multiple witnesses testified earlier in the preliminary hearing about what they saw on the night of the incident. Shawn Demaline, who lived with McCoy at 1115 Tennessee St., testified in August 2023 that he was in his bedroom on the night of the incident when he heard the gunshots and went out to the front porch, where he saw a man “dressed as a Ninja Turtle” standing by a moped. He said the shooter, whom he identified as Marshall, fired more shots at him and then fled the scene on the moped. Demaline said when he went into McCoy’s room, he saw McCoy with bullet wounds in his forehead and leg.

O’Brien’s girlfriend, Rhonda Salvador, also testified and said that she heard O’Brien being shot.

Salvador said that Marshall, who would frequently come to their home to sell drugs, came by on the day of the shooting; O’Brien went downstairs to answer the door, and she stayed upstairs. She said she could hear him talking to Marshall from the bedroom and that Marshall asked whether O’Brien had any “brown,” a slang term for heroin. Then, she said she heard a short scuffle and a gunshot; ran to the stairs; and saw O’Brien’s feet at the bottom of the stairwell with another pair of feet standing over him.

When she went downstairs, she said, O’Brien had turned blue and was unresponsive, and she heard a moped driving away. She said she called 911 and then panicked and ran out of the house in fear that Marshall would return for her.

Salvador also testified that O’Brien had been put on a “hit list” targeting child molesters that Marshall created days before O’Brien was killed. Lawrence police detective Meghan Bardwell said that investigators located that list in Marshall’s home and that both O’Brien and McCoy were on it. Authorities have said they had no reason to believe the men were child molesters.

At the hearing in August, Bardwell showed video surveillance footage from Marshall’s home cameras that showed Marshall dancing in his garage as he dressed in a costume before the incident. The footage showed him attaching a stuffed octopus to his moped and grabbing a rifle believed to have been used to kill O’Brien.

Marshall’s fiancée, Crystal Fredericks, testified in November 2023 that she was in the car when Marshall fled from police. She said that in the days and weeks prior to the incident, Marshall had been talking about an “alien attack.”

Also at that hearing, Lawrence police detective M.T. Brown testified that as soon as Marshall was in custody after the chase, Marshall immediately began talking about the incident. Brown said that Marshall admitted to the shootings, and that Marshall told him that people would find the shootings “justified.”

Marshall is being held at the Douglas County Jail on a $1.5 million bond. He is represented by appointed attorneys Cline Boone and Matthew Cohen. The state is represented by Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum and Senior Assistant District Attorney David Greenwald. Hanley scheduled Marshall to be arraigned on the charges on Feb. 2. No trial date has been set.


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