The first of four defendants to go to trial in the She’s a Pistol gun shop shooting in Shawnee was found guilty of first-degree murder by a jury Thursday.
Londro Emanuel Patterson III, 21, lowered his head at hearing the verdict and later sobbed loudly in reaction to his mother’s anguish.
Patterson was one of four men who prosecutors say intended to rob the gun shop Jan. 9, 2015, but failed when confronted by Jon Bieker, who died from a gunshot that pierced his aorta and severed his spinal column. Three of the would-be robbers were also wounded before Bieker died.
Bieker and his wife, Becky, were co-owners of the shop at 5725 Nieman Road. Becky Bieker was assaulted, incurred a broken nose and briefly lost consciousness in the robbery attempt. She testified and attended each day of the four-day trial.
“My family and I were all very pleased with the guilty verdict the jury brought back,” Becky Bieker said afterward. “I believe justice has been served.”
Bieker said she will testify in the other cases, as well, if they go to trial.
“I will continue to be at every hearing and every scheduling conference until this is completely over,” she said.
The jury in Johnson County District Court also found Patterson guilty of attempted aggravated robbery, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery and aggravated battery.
The murder conviction carries a penalty of life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. Sentencing was scheduled for July 21.
Defense attorney Zane Todd acknowledged to the jury that his client conspired and attempted to commit aggravated robbery, but he emphasized that it was one of the other attackers who fired the shot that killed Jon Bieker. He argued that Patterson had already left the store and that the robbery “was over” when the fatal shot was fired.
“I’m not asking you to let my client go,” Todd said. “He did a bad thing, but he did not kill Mr. Bieker.”
Assistant District Attorney Vanessa Riebli said that did not matter.
“Under Kansas law, when someone dies in the course of an apparent dangerous felony, all participants are guilty,” she said. “...Under the statute, it does not matter that the defendant (Patterson) did not pull the trigger.”
According to prosecutors: The three other defendants cased She’s a Pistol on Jan. 5, 2015, and returned, with Patterson, four days later, each armed with a handgun. One of the men entered the store first, wearing a wig and posing as a woman. As Becky Bieker was tending to the supposed customer, he signaled the others by cellphone that the coast was clear for them to enter, overwhelm the woman and rob the shop.
But Jon Bieker, in a back office, heard and saw the confrontation on a monitor and rushed out with his own gun. A firefight ensued. About 24 seconds later, Jon Bieker dropped to the floor near the first attacker and was dead within minutes. The other three attackers had left the shop and were arrested soon afterward.
Surveillance cameras inside the shop recorded the incident, and the video was played for the jurors.
Prosecutors also presented evidence from the vehicle the four attackers used that showed they were equipped with plastic gloves to prevent fingerprints and disguises. Patterson had a skull mask.
At the time of the She’s a Pistol attack, Patterson, then 19, had been on probation for about four months for a Missouri firearm conviction. The term of the probation was to be three years, and if he had successfully completed that period, his conviction would have been erased. A probation official testified that Patterson was supposed to check in with his probation officer on the day of the She’s a Pistol killing.
After the verdict, prosecutors asked jurors to authorize District Court Judge Timothy P. McCarthy to depart upward from the sentencing guidelines for the lesser charges. After deliberating for about an hour, the foreman told the court that the panel could not reach the unanimous decision required to make that authorization.
The other defendants, each awaiting his own trial for first-degree murder, are Hakeem W. Malik, 20, Nicquan K. Midgyett, 21, and De’Anthony A. Wiley, 22.