Of all the Wichita “Lockup” episodes yet to air, the fifth was perhaps the most intriguing to date.
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The episode, “The Keeper” – a nod to the Keeper of the Plains – followed the stories of two high-profile inmates, and then a humorous third plotline.
The MSNBC show did its due diligence, even pronouncing the Arkansas River the “Ar-KAN-sas,” just as Wichitans tend to do.
If you missed the episode, it’s currently streaming at www.MSNBC.com/lockup.
Otherwise, read all about the real Wichita people featured in the latest episode:
A previously unknown connection
The primary subject of the episode was 29-year-old Pierre Washington. Washington shot his wife of seven years, Diana, in their van at OJ Watson Park in October 2015. Washington then drove back to a friend’s house near 42nd and Elizabeth and called police, telling them he had killed his wife. That’s been public knowledge.
Washington explains to the cameras that he and his wife had recently gone through difficulties in their marriage, and that they were going to try to salvage their marriage by getting into the “swinger” lifestyle. Washington’s mother alludes that the two of them sought out another couple through Craigslist, and the four of them became friends.
Then Diana and the other man in the foursome, David Bean, began getting too romantically involved, Pierre Washington says. He said he feared he had lost her. Pierre Washington drove his wife to Watson Park, and she called Bean. Something snapped in Pierre, he said, and he shot her seven times while she was on the phone.
Pierre Washington’s mother, who was unaware of her son’s relationship woes, says she thinks her son had become possessed by the devil after he stopped going to church and reading the Bible. Washington’s family briefly brings in attorney Sarah Swain to consider the case, but they decide against hiring her, because it was too expensive.
Six days later, Bean – the other man in the foursome – died in a late-night crash on I-135. His widow said he was speeding, drunk and high when he rammed into a broken-down semi parked on the shoulder of the highway.
Washington still maintains contact with Bean’s wife, who is shown visiting him at the jail. They say they have a “friendship love” for each other.
Washington was sentenced to life in prison in April of 2016, after pleading guilty to killing his wife.
A capital murder case
The episode also profiles inmate Luis Alvarado-Meraz, 25, in jail awaiting trial in a capital murder case. Alvarado has pleaded not guilty to killing his twin brother and his brother’s wife at the Shores apartment complex near Pawnee and Broadway in January 2015. He could face the death penalty if convicted of the murders.
Alvarado-Meraz refuses to talk about the case – his name was listed as one of the plaintiffs who, with a team of public defenders in 2015, tried to get the “Lockup” camera crews out of the Sedgwick County Jail.
Instead, the episode focuses on his jailhouse drawings. He makes somewhat of a living in jail drawing intricate portraits using the flexible pencils the jail provides inmates, in exchange for sweet snacks from the jail’s commissary.
Alvarado-Meraz says he is “excited” to, hopefully, be sentenced to prison, because he would likely have access to better art tools. He says he “can’t wait to show the world” his drawings.
Alvarado-Meraz is still awaiting trial.
An obsession with jailhouse food
An interesting, though odd, side plot in the episode revolved around Adrian Zongker, 20, who says he has Asperger’s syndrome.
Zongker, who is in jail on charges of aggravated assault and battery, is obsessed with the jailhouse food, trying to hoard as much of it as possible. The show points out that Zongker, who has been in and out of jail in recent years, had lost 135 pounds over the previous 18 months.
Zongker gets in trouble for trying to take the food, because jailhouse deputies say the plastic trays could be used as weapons – and because he’s trying to steal more food than what he’s allowed every day.
Zongker is eventually sentenced to 10 months in prison.