Prosecutors say 2010 homicide was a revenge killing

10/30/2013 12:58 PM

08/08/2014 10:19 AM

A December 2010 shooting death that occurred outside a South Broadway business may have been the result of vigilante justice, testimony at the suspect’s preliminary hearing showed on Wednesday.

Witnesses said James V. Holloman, 31, shot and killed Stephen Smallwood, 41, because he thought Smallwood was involved in the slaying of Holloman’s brother, Sammy “Ray Ray” Smith, in 2009.

A detective testified at the hearing that the gun used to kill Smallwood was once owned by a Wichita police officer. He said the officer loaned it to an officer on the Sedgwick Police Department, and that officer later reported the gun stolen.

Wichita police said Smallwood was shot to death and another man was wounded while they were sitting in a car outside an auto business at 4150 S. Broadway. The case remained open until last month when Holloman was charged with the crime after being transferred from a federal prison in Louisiana, where he had been serving a 12-year term for conspiracy to commit robbery and weapons violations.

Smith, 38, was found shot to death on his living room couch in his home in the 600 block of North New York on Sept. 9, 2009. Police said at the time that there were signs of forced entry and that some parts of the house appeared to have been searched. Police said they had no motive for the crime, and the case remains open today.

Among those testifying Wednesday was Nickisha Barnett, who said she was living with Holloman at the time of the Smallwood shooting. She said Holloman’s father investigated Smith’s death and concluded that Smallwood was involved.

Prosecutor Jennifer Amyx asked her whether Holloman was happy that Smallwood was dead.

“He wasn’t jumping up and down about it, but obviously that’s what he was meaning to do,” she replied.

“Why did he shoot the other guy?” Amyx asked.

“He didn’t mean to, is what I was told,” Barnett said.

Barnett said that after the shooting, Holloman asked her to get rid of the 9mm handgun that he used to kill Smallwood.

Wichita police Detective Dan Harty testified that the case remained open until August 2011, when a federal prisoner offered a tip that led him to confront Barnett about the gun. She then admitted disposing of the gun in a body of water while driving between Wichita and Kansas City. Harty said Barnett recalled only that the pond was near a city that began with the letter “E” but was not El Dorado or Emporia.

While making the drive with Barnett and another detective, Harty said, they realized the city was Edgerton. After two unsuccessful tries, he said, a team of officers with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office located the muddy gun in a drainage pond for a nearby Wal-Mart store. Ballistics tests showed the gun was the one used to kill Smallwood and wound a 37-year-old man who was with him.

At the end of the hearing, District Judge David Kaufman ruled there was enough evidence for prosecutors to take the case to trial.

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