Crime & Courts

Officers thought shots could have been fireworks, then body was found

Neighbors told police they weren't sure whether the popping sounds they'd heard were gunshots or fireworks on a night last July.

"It's not unusual for people to mistake the two, that time of year," said Wichita police officer Jason Waite, who responded to the calls of shots in the area just east of Central and Washington.

Then Grady Lane turned up dead the next day in an upstairs room of his house in that same area. His neighbor, Derrick Richard, is on trial this week, charged with first-degree murder.

Waite testified he saw Richard walking in the 500 block of Wabash, near where the shots were heard, just before 11 p.m. on July 16, 2010. Richard said he hadn't heard the noise, Waite recalled.

After another neighbor claimed not to hear anything either, Waite told jurors, and officers concluded the caller a block away may have actually heard fireworks.

But as Waite finished his paperwork around 7 a.m. July 17, he heard another call to a house on Wabash. Waite said he informed his supervisor about the report the night before of the possible shots.

Officers Chad Richardson and Channara Seang arrived at the home to find Erin Gonzalez-Lane standing on the front porch, hysterical. She woke up that morning and found her husband, Grady, lying on the couch in his den.

Seang said Lane, 35, had a gunshot in his head. The dried blood indicated he'd been dead for hours. There were bullet holes in the window facing the back yard.

Prosecutor Avery Eloffson told jurors that Richard fired at the house from the back yard because he had an ongoing feud with Lane. Defense attorney Casey Cotton said there had been no arguments that day and that there's no evidence that Richard fired the shots.

Gonzalez-Lane told officers, however, that Richard had fired his gun before. She had been awakened by the shooting sounds the night before. She had gone to bed at about 10 p.m., she told the officers, leaving her husband in the room where he watched television and played video games.

"She said she told him she was going to bed because she had a garage sale early the next day," Richardson recalled from the witness stand. "She said he told her he loved her and he was going to stay up and play some more on his PlayStation."

The trial continues Wednesday before Judge Eric Commer.