Two men now charged in the 2010 killing of a Shawnee liquor store owner were long considered suspects in the case.
But not until new leads surfaced in recent months were prosecutors able to charge Larry Marshall Jr. and Bruce Julius Ashley Jr. with first-degree murder in the death of Gerry Grovenburg.
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said Tuesday that it was a “challenging” investigation, and he praised the “dogged” persistence of Shawnee police.
“It really felt good to be able to tell the family,” Howe said Tuesday afternoon at a news conference attended by members of Grovenburg’s family.
Ashley, 30, is still on the loose, and Howe said federal and state law enforcement officers are looking for him. He said Ashley was last known to be living in Kansas City and should be considered armed and dangerous.
Marshall, 33, was arrested May 17 in Arkansas, where he has family connections, Howe said. With two brothers of Grovenburg looking on, Marshall made his initial appearance Tuesday afternoon in Johnson County District Court.
Marshall and Ashley also have a family connection, although Howe did not say how they were related.
According to court documents filed in the case, the 61-year-old Grovenburg was killed during an attempted robbery on May 12, 2010. Marshall was the getaway driver, according to the allegations, and Ashley was the alleged gunman.
Howe declined to discuss specific evidence that led to the charges. He also said he could not comment on the criminal history of the suspects.
But according to area court and prison records, both Ashley and Marshall have criminal records dating to 2002.
Marshall was charged with a felony in 2006 when he was booked into the Wyandotte County jail on a traffic warrant and gave authorities the name of Bruce Julius Ashley. Not until his booking fingerprints were checked with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation did authorities learn his true identity.
Marshall was subsequently charged with aggravated false impersonation in that case, according to the records.
That was one of three felony convictions for which Marshall served time in prison.
One of those charges stemmed from an incident just days after Grovenburg was killed. Marshall was charged with obstruction of legal process for running from a Wyandotte County courtroom on May 17, 2010, after he was ordered into custody on a probation violation, according to court records.
Wyandotte County jail records show that Marshall has been booked into the facility 10 times since 2005, including the day after Grovenburg was killed.
Two months after the killing, he was charged in Johnson County with battery on a law enforcement officer. That incident occurred when a deputy was attempting to serve Marshall with court papers in a civil paternity case.
Kansas prison records show that Marshall was in jail or prison from August 2010 until February 2011 when he was paroled to Arkansas. He was living in the town of Blytheville in the northeast corner of the state when he was arrested.
Ashley’s criminal record, while less extensive, includes a 2002 charge of aggravated robbery. However, that charge was later reduced to theft. He also had a drug possession conviction in Johnson County in 2008, according to the records.
During his court appearance Tuesday, Marshall asked for a court-appointed lawyer but was not required to enter a plea. He is in custody with a bond set at $1 million.
After the hearing, Duane and Terry Grovenburg spoke about their brother’s death and the satisfaction of seeing charges filed in the case.
Gerry Grovenburg had operated the store at 7635 Quivira Road for 35 years, and he was making plans for retirement when he was killed, they said.
Terry Grovenburg said it was especially difficult thinking about that.
While pleased that charges have been filed, both said they know it is only the beginning of the legal process.
“We’re very relieved, but we know it’s going to be a tough road,” said Terry Grovenburg.
Anyone with information about Ashley’s whereabouts is asked to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477 or the Shawnee Police Department at 913-742-6795.