Crime & Courts

Man to stand trial in Wichita couple's gun deaths

Jessie Foust and Adrian Jackson were shot to death in their Wichita home and found on Thanksgiving Day.
Jessie Foust and Adrian Jackson were shot to death in their Wichita home and found on Thanksgiving Day. Courtesy photo

Detectives Tim Relph and Rick Craig heard nervousness in the voice of the 18-year-old as he described two killings.

After years of interviewing suspects, those little reactions raise big questions, Relph told a judge Wednesday.

"It's just when you interview people, you can see when they get nervous at a certain point," Relph said.

Sam Holton had said a 17-year-old friend shot Adrian Jackson and Jessie Foust the night before last Thanksgiving.

Craig jumped in.

"Be honest. Did you fire that gun?" Relph remembered his partner asking Holton.

"Yes," Holton said.

Sedgwick County District Judge Anthony Powell ordered Holton to stand trial on two counts of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery. Holton entered a plea of not guilty.

Trevor Cox, 17, and a 15-year-old are also charged with murder as juveniles and are awaiting hearings to determine whether they will be tried as adults in the case.

Holton's story

According to Relph's testimony Wednesday, this is what Holton told police during his interview:

Holton and Cox had dropped by Jackson's house on North Chautauqua.

Jackson, 26, was a rapper who had gained recognition in a national music magazine. Foust, 25, was about to graduate from Wichita State University.

Their two young children were also at home.

Holton said he'd met Jackson at a party and had purchased drugs from him. But that night he and Cox just dropped by to "hang out."

Cox went to the bathroom. Jackson walked into the kitchen. Holton said he and Foust were sitting on a couch in the living room.

"What the... homey?" Holton heard Jackson say.

There was a gunshot.

Holton told the detectives he saw Jackson stagger back into the dining area. Then Holton said he heard another shot.

Jackson staggered back toward the couch, fell over a Christmas tree and onto the floor.

Cox "unloads the clip" into Jackson, Holton told the detectives.

Foust started screaming.

Holton said Cox tossed him the gun. Holton said he fumbled it and dropped it.

"Shoot the bitch," Holton said Cox yelled.

Holton told the detectives he picked up the gun, pulled the trigger and shot Foust.

Autopsy reports showed Jackson had seven entrance wounds. Foust was shot once in the back, the report showed.

Holton's attorney, Sal Intagliata, argued that the testimony only supported second-degree murder, not first-degree premeditated murder.

Intagliata also argued that Holton shouldn't stand trial for the felony murder of Jackson. Holton didn't know a robbery was about to occur — that was initiated by Cox.

Powell disagreed and ordered Holton to stand trial as charged.

'It's your auntie; let me in'

Thanksgiving Day, Amber Jackson testified, she went to check on her brother and sister-in-law when they didn't show up for the family's dinner at 2 p.m.

She said she went to the door and knocked. There was no answer. She said she peered through the window and saw a man's hand on the floor.

Frantically, Jackson pounded on the door. Her 4-year-old nephew answered on the other side of the door. The boy asked who it was.

"It's your auntie; let me in," Jackson remembered yelling.

Jackson testified she and her sister walked in and found the couple's bodies. Their 1-year-old son was crawling out of another room. The children had been there alone all night.

A visit to Mulvane

Relph said Holton was originally called in for questioning simply because police knew he'd been at the house. Holton said he hadn't seen Adrian Jackson for three days. They let him go home.

The detectives worked all Thanksgiving Day and through the next night. Relph said he managed to go home for a couple of hours before he received a call from a Sedgwick County Sheriff's deputy.

Deputy Justin Antle explained he was a friend of the Holton family, Relph testified. A call to Antle from Holton's mother prompted Relph and other detectives to go to the family's home in Mulvane.

When they arrived, Relph said, Holton's mother produced some jewelry. Relph recognized it. He'd seen it on Jackson in a photograph.

Relph took Holton to police headquarters for an interview.

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