Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Homicide Arrest Begins Healing

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Homicide Arrest Begins Healing

Article excerpt

D.A. charges teen with first-degree murder in shooting death of Dwane Simmons

The charges announced Friday by Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay in the shooting death of Washburn University football player Dwane Simmons can't wash away the pain felt by Simmons' family or the Washburn community, but they do help the healing process to begin, Ichabods coach Craig Schurig said.

Kagay has filed seven felony charges against 18-year-old Francisco Alejandro Mendez, his office revealed late Friday afternoon in a news release. Mendez was charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and five counts of aggravated robbery.

He is being held in Shawnee County Jail on $1 million bond.

Schurig said the news, which came nearly 2½ months after Simmons was killed at a party in central Topeka, came as a relief to everyone associated with the affable Washburn senior.

“It's a good day; it feels good,” Schurig said Friday evening. “It's nice to get some initial closure, and the charges filed are significant. Big thanks to the Topeka Police Department and the

detectives and District Attorney Kagay for all their hard work. It feels good that justice is starting to come through.”

Schurig said he was able to exchange texts with Navarro Simmons, Dwane's father, earlier Friday.

“You can't imagine what the Simmons family is going through, but today is a very good day,” Schurig said. “I haven't had a chance to talk with our players or coaches, but I know we all feel a lot better tonight than we did last night.”

Simmons, a 23-year-old cornerback for the Ichabods, was killed about 12:45 a.m. April 28 near S.W. 13th and Lane. Topeka police responded to the scene to find Simmons lying in the street, and he was pronounced dead 11 minutes later, Kagay said.

A second victim, fellow WU cornerback Corey Ballentine, arrived at Stormont Vail Hospital shortly after, suffering from a gunshot wound.

Ballentine, a Shawnee Heights graduate who had just been drafted by the New York Giants, suffered injuries that weren't considered life-threatening. …

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