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Fingerprint led to arrest in Dollar General killings, detective testifies

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, May 2, 2013, at 12:22 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, at 2:40 p.m.

A fingerprint left on a glass door after a double-homicide at a Dollar General store last year led to the arrest of Marquis Marshall on capital murder charges, a Wichita police detective testified Thursday.

Detective Tim Relph said a video camera showed the killer walking into the store and quickly leaving after shooting two people with a .22-caliber handgun. The killer tried to exit the store through an entrance door before realizing that the door wouldn’t open from the inside, Relph said. The finger and palm print left on that entrance door proved to be the key to solving the case, he said.

The shooting occurred at 8:01 p.m. on Nov. 30, Relph said, and a computerized fingerprint classification system identified Marshall as a possible suspect by 3:45 the next morning. By 4 a.m., he said, a fingerprint examiner confirmed that the print came from Marshall.

“By 4:30 in the morning there were 50 police officers looking for him,” Relph testified.

Marshall’s fingerprints were on file because of several earlier property crime convictions.

Relph said that during his interrogation of Marshall, he denied being the shooter. But Relph said Marshall also said: “I never thought that I would kill anybody.”

Relph’s account of the investigation came during the preliminary hearing for Marshall, who is accused of acting with premeditation when he shot and killed Zachary Hunt, a 22-year-old store employee, and Henry Harvey, a 79-year-old customer. Both were near the front of the store when they were shot.

District Judge Warren Wilbert ruled at the close of the hearing that there was enough evidence to bind Marshall over for trial for capital murder. Prosecutors will not have to decide until after Marshall’s arraignment on May 16 whether to seek the death penalty.

The three witnesses who testified Thursday at Marshall’s preliminary hearing offered no hint of a motive for the shooting.

As Marshall was led into court in handcuffs and a green jail jumpsuit, defense lawyer Ron Evans asked him, “You all right?” Marshall said “no” as he settled into his chair and remained silent for most of the hearing.

Marshall appeared to pay little attention to the testimony and rarely made eye-contact with the witnesses. Evans provided him with a pen and legal pad that went unused during the hearing.

Before the hearing, Marshall filed a handwritten motion asking for a new lawyer. He wrote that Evans was ineffective and had met with him only once between the time of his arrest and the day he filed the motion on March 28.

Wilbert cautioned Marshall against seeking a new lawyer.

“There are only a few attorneys in the state of Kansas who are qualified in what are called capital murder cases, and Mr. Evans is one of them,” Wilbert said. “Frankly Mr. Evans is one of the best in the state.”

Marshall agreed to drop his motion for a new lawyer.

The first witness was store manager Mikel Flanagan, who said there were nine cameras running in the store at the time of the shooting, including the one that was aimed at the front door. The video from that camera, which was shown in court, does not show the area of the store where the victims were shot.

The video does show a man in dark clothing entering the store right before the shooting, and it shows him quickly leaving afterward, imprinting his palm and fingerprints on the entrance door in the process. Wichita police crime scene investigator Anthony Decena testified that he found no other prints on the inside of the entrance door. He also said he found six .22-caliber shell casings in the store.

Relph said video from the camera shows that a store employee cleaned the inside of the entrance door at 2:25 p.m. on the day of the shooting. He said no one else touched the door that day.

“Not many people attempt to go out the entrance door,” he said. “It appeared that nobody touched it.”

Relph said that during his interview with Marshall at City Hall, he tried to get Marshall to explain what he meant when he said, “I never thought that I would kill anybody.”

He told Evans that he didn’t know what Marshall mean by the statement.

“I can’t tell you how he thinks,” Relph said.

Reach Hurst Laviana at 316-268-6499 or hlaviana@wichitaeagle.com.

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