The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday upheld the conviction of a man accused of killing a Wichita businessman nearly six years ago.
The court ruled that there was no basis to overturn Kedrin Littlejohn’s conviction in the death of 55-year-old James Collins following a botched robbery on May 12, 2008. Littlejohn and Shannon Bogguess each were convicted of first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault and aggravated robbery.
Prosecutors at trial said Bogguess performed odd jobs at Collins' business, Marquee Motors, which built custom luxury cars.
The Supreme Court’s ruling gave the following account:
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Littlejohn told detectives following his apprehension that Bogguess convinced him to assist in the robbery of Collins, claiming he could get $10,000 for doing nothing more than holding a gun. But when Collins resisted the attempted robbery at his business on the morning of May 12, Bogguess shot him in the leg.
Bogguess and Littlejohn then put Collins in a Hummer that was at the business in an attempt to take him to an ATM and force him to withdraw cash for them. As they were driving the Hummer down St. Francis Street in downtown Wichita, Collins jumped from the moving vehicle into the street.
Several witnesses saw Bogguess and Littlejohn attempt to pick up Collins and get him back into the Hummer at about 8 a.m., and they began to yell. Littlejohn ran back to the Hummer, while Bogguess retrieved a gun from the vehicle and shot Collins as he sat in the street. Bogguess ran back to the Hummer, got into the driver's seat and drove down the street.
After the Hummer drove off, Jeremy Linot, a witness at the scene, ran out to the middle of the street to help Collins. Linot saw that Collins was trying to roll to his left in an attempt to stand up. As Linot was aiding Collins, someone yelled out to him to look out.
Linot looked up and saw that the Hummer had turned around and was heading back towards them. Linot tried to drag Collins off the street, but he abandoned his efforts in order to dodge the Hummer, which ran over Collins.
An autopsy later determined Collins died as a result of being run over, though the gunshot would may well have also proven fatal.
Littlejohn and Bogguess parked the Hummer in an alley not far from where Collins was killed and took off running. When Littlejohn realized he had left his cell phone in the Hummer, he attempted to retrieve it – but saw police swarming the area in response to the shooting.
He approached an officer and claimed to have been robbed and abducted, but blood found on a shoe linked him to the initial shooting at Marquee Motors. Bogguess was arrested the next day after he used one of Collins’ credit cards at a Wichita store.
At trial, Littlejohn claimed he was an unwilling participant in the crimes. In appealing his conviction, he claimed the court erred in instructing or failing to instruct the jury on several issues. In making its ruling, the court said “the State presented overwhelming evidence establishing Littlejohn's culpability for each crime he was found guilty of committing.
“Furthermore, in our analysis of all the issues that Littlejohn raised on appeal, we only found one that may have constituted error, though not reversible error: the failure to instruct the jury on second-degree intentional murder. This one possible error cannot constitute cumulative error.”
As a result, Littlejohn’s conviction was affirmed.
Littlejohn, now 24, was sentenced to life in prison for the first-degree murder conviction. The judge then tacked on 23 more years for aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault and aggravated robbery.
The sentences will run consecutively, meaning Littlejohn must serve a minimum of 20 years on the murder sentence before he can start serving time on the other counts.
Bogguess, now 30, was given a similar sentence.