A Wichita man was convicted Monday of second-degree murder in a case where some of the prosecution’s strongest testimony came from a man who committed suicide less than six weeks before the trial began.
Travis Knighten, 20, was convicted in the shooting death of Mario Brown, 22, at an after-hours party in a parking lot at the southwest corner of 13th and Hillside on May 7, 2011. He also was convicted of aggravated battery for shooting and wounding a second man.
The jury began its deliberations late Friday afternoon and delivered its verdict shortly before noon Monday.
One of the prosecution’s key witnesses, Arthur Gary, testified at Knighten’s preliminary hearing last year that he was driving an SUV through the parking lot when Knighten began firing a gun from the front passenger seat. Those at the party were unable to identify the shooter.
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Gary’s body was found on the banks of the Arkansas River on April 4, and a coroner’s report said he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
District Judge Terry Pullman ruled before the trial that Gary’s preliminary hearing testimony could be read to the jury. The jury was not told how Gary died.
Knighten will be sentenced July 11.