Old Town shooting suspect to stand trial, judge says

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — A judge determined Friday at Keshawn Dawson’s preliminary hearing that there was enough evidence to stand trial for murder.

Dawson is charged with killing one person and injuring six others in a shootout at the Enigma Club & Lounge. He pleaded not guilty to nine counts arising from the incident, including two counts of first-degree murder, six counts of aggravated assault and one count of criminal discharge of a firearm.

A witness who had previously refused to testify against Dawson spoke with a court-appointed attorney. Devon Smith said Dawson was ‘like a little brother to him’ and did not confirm if he was with Dawson the night of the shooting, saying he was too drunk to remember most of the night . Court documents allege Smith was in the car with Dawson after the shooting.

Smith, who did not want video or audio of his testimony, said during his testimony that “you have the wrong person.” Detective Donald Moore said he interviewed Smith about 15 hours after the shooting and that the witness voluntarily came to City Hall for questioning.

Moore said the transcript of that interview was 56 pages, and Smith did not appear to be intoxicated during the interview.

The case is expected to be back in court on May 6.

State prosecutors say Dawson murdered Preston Spencer, 34, just after midnight on Sept. 7, 2021. Court documents released in February document what prosecutors say happened the night of the shooting.

According to an affidavit, officers responded to the Enigma Club around 12:38 a.m. for reports of a shooting. When they arrived, they found Spencer near the club’s south exit with a gunshot wound to his chest.

He was taken to a local hospital where he died less than two hours later. An autopsy determined that Spencer died from a gunshot wound that “caused damage to a major artery and internal blood loss”.

Additionally, officers identified six other victims who had been shot. Two victims were shot in the head. All six victims sustained non-life-threatening injuries. Court documents say officers then secured the scene and found CCTV cameras in and around the club.

Footage showed a suspect, who prosecutors said was Dawson, was escorted out of the club at 12:34 a.m., approached a car and, wearing “a white shirt or towel”, returned to the club . Just two minutes later, at 12:36 a.m., he opened fire on the club, according to the affidavit.

Officers contacted a witness who said he heard Dawson say, “It’s okay, I’ll be back.” Another witness said he saw Dawson shirtless and heard him say “so people want to fight”, and said he used several derogatory descriptions before shooting into the building.

The affidavit states that after firing several bullets, he returned to the car and left the area. Officers who reviewed the footage believed two other people were in the car, Devion Smith and Deonzae Wise. Police allege Smith was hooked up to a vehicle similar to the one Dawson left behind. Smith went to City Hall to make a statement. There, police saw him calling a “Maurice Dawson” on Facebook. Police testified that the Facebook account contained numerous photos of Dawson.

Dawson was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona on October 8, 2021.

About Jefferey G. Cannon

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