Crime & Courts

16-year-old to be tried as adult in killing of Wichita couple at Thanksgiving

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

Josh Duque and Sam Holton told different stories about how two people were shot to death the night before Thanksgiving.

Both are going to trial on first-degree murder and robbery charges after a judge ruled Thursday that Duque, 16, should face the charges as an adult.

A third man, meanwhile, saw murder charges dropped against him, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and was released from jail.

Holton, 18, told police that he and Trevor Cox shot Adrian Jackson and Jessie Foust to death at their home, a detective testified Wednesday.

But Duque told the same detectives that he — not Cox — accompanied Holton to 601 N. Chautauqua the night before Thanksgiving, police testified Thursday.

Prosecutors dismissed murder charges against Cox on Wednesday after he pleaded no contest to aiding a felon and misdemeanor possession of stolen property.

"The credible evidence pointed to the fact my client wasn't present at the shooting," said Lee McMaster, Cox's lawyer.

Police found a 9mm handgun they think killed Jackson and Foust in a Superman backpack inside Cox's bedroom closet at his grandmother's house.

Cox, now 18, is set for sentencing May 27 before Judge James Burgess in juvenile court.

The Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office said it could not comment on the details of Cox's plea.

"Based on the facts of this particular case, we believe that was an appropriate outcome," said Georgia Cole, spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office.

Steve Mank, Duque's lawyer, argued in court that the conflicting accounts point to deficiencies in the evidence.

"In all my years of doing this, I don't think I've ever seen a case in this state," Mank told the judge.

Duque faces arraignment April 21 in adult court.

Holton's lawyer said Thursday that he was surprised at Cox's plea.

"I find it interesting that while the state is eliciting testimony in one hearing, at the same time, in another case, it is accepting a plea in that runs completely contradictory," said Sal Intagliata.

Jackson, 26, and Foust, 25, were found dead by a family member on Thanksgiving. Their children, ages 4 and 1, were unharmed and had apparently been left overnight with the bodies of their slain parents.

But little else matches in what Holton and Duque say happened the night before.

Conflicting stories

Homicide detective Rick Craig testified Thursday that Duque told police he was in a back room of the Chautauqua house when he heard gunshots.

Craig said Duque ran out into a hallway to find Jackson and Foust dead. Holton then began hauling property out of the house, Duque told police.

That testimony came a day after another judge in another courtroom heard what Holton told Craig and detective Tim Relph.

Relph said Holton's version put him and Cox in the house. According to Relph's testimony, Holton admitted firing the shot that killed Foust, a student nearing graduation from Wichita State University.

Craig said Duque claimed to have taken a gun into the house, although he said he never pulled it out or fired it.

Duque and Holton both said they had been to Jackson's house previously to buy drugs.

The gun and prior visits were among Judge Burgess' reasons to believe Duque and Holton planned violence.

"You'd been to the house prior times and did not need a gun then," Burgess said in his ruling. "Why did you need one now?"

A rifle also connected Duque and Holton's stories.

Duque told police Holton went to Jackson's house looking for an M-16 rifle, Craig said.

Holton admitted selling an M-16 to Jackson in the days before the killings, Relph testified Wednesday.

Following the leads

Jewelry and schoolhouse gossip led police to their suspects.

Amber Jackson, 20, told a judge for a second day about finding her brother and sister-in-law after they didn't show up for Thanksgiving dinner.

Jackson couldn't remember her brother — a rising rap artist with the stage name Mind Right — without his earrings and necklaces.

"He wore them all the time, except when he slept," she testified Thursday.

But Thanksgiving afternoon, as her brother lay on the floor with multiple gunshot wounds, Jackson didn't see any jewelry.

Police said Adrian Jackson's pockets had been turned inside out, as if someone had searched them.

Holton was arrested four days after the killings, when his mother found jewelry in her son's possession and called police.

Detectives said they recognized the jewelry from photographs on Adrian Jackson's Mind Right page on the MySpace music Web site. Cox was arrested the same day.

Detectives found Duque in class at Haysville Alternative School. They were led there by a police resource officer at the school, who reported students there saying Duque had told them he saw the killings.

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