Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Topeka Records 7 Homicides in 2014

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Topeka Records 7 Homicides in 2014

Article excerpt

Topeka made it through 2014 with seven homicides, its lowest total in nearly a decade.

According to unofficial records from The Topeka Capital-Journal, the first homicide of the year occurred in late May -- about six months after the capital city's last previous homicides occurred in a quadruple slaying in December 2013.

The seven slayings were the lowest in Topeka since 2005, when the same number was reported in the city.

Among Topeka's seven homicides this past year were two that involved Topeka police officers.

- The first officer-involved slaying resulted when police Cpl. Jason Harwood was shot and killed in the line of duty while making a car stop on the afternoon of Sept. 7 in East Topeka.

Ross Preston Lane, 30, was charged with capital murder in Harwood's death. His preliminary hearing date is set for Jan. 13 in the Shawnee County Courthouse.

Another man, Randy Allen Ridens Jr., 30, was charged with felony obstruction of apprehension from prosecution and felony possession of stolen property in the case. Ridens is set to enter a plea Jan. 16. He also is scheduled to testify for the prosecution in Lane's preliminary hearing.

- The second police-related shooting occurred late the morning of Dec. 13 near S.W. 6th and Buchanan.

In that incident, police officers shot and killed an armed man, Joseph Michael Rodriguez, 19, after he refused repeated commands to drop his gun and instead pointed it at officers and bystanders. Numerous witnesses said police did all they could to avoid shooting the man before being forced to open fire.

Arrests have been made in four of the other five homicides of 2014 in Topeka:

- Tiffany Davenport-Ray, 42, was shot and killed early in the morning of Sunday, May 25, while in a car near S.W. 18th and Kansas Avenue. just hours after her wedding. Awnterio D. Lowery, 30, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in Davenport-Ray's death. Lowery is scheduled for a jury trial starting May 11 in Shawnee County District Court.

- Germaul L. Rayton, 20 was killed and two others were injured in a shooting late in the afternoon of Saturday, May 31, at Freedom Valley Park, 1400 S.E. Locust. Jourdan M. Hunt, 24, of Topeka, was arrested in connection with the shooting. Hunt's trial date is set for Feb. 23.

- Jermel R. Robbins, 26, was shot and killed the afternoon of Friday, June 13, after a verbal exchange with another person outside a home at 2129 block of S.E. Kentucky. No arrests have been reported in that case.

- Patrick Lightbourn Jr., 19, was shot and killed about 1:50 a.m. Friday, June 20, while outside a residence at 620 S.W. Tyler. Two teenagers, both of Topeka, were arrested in connection with Lightbourn's death. One was identified as Damieon Matthew Ortega- Brown, 18, who was charged with first-degree murder. …

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