Crime & Courts

Trial begins in Oaklawn homicide case

Two men forced their way into an Oaklawn home looking for a safe full of money, then shot and killed a man before grudgingly leaving with three big-screen TVs, prosecutors told a Sedgwick County jury on Tuesday.

Reginald Dupree, one of five suspects arrested in the Dec. 14 shooting death of 19-year-old Markez Phillips, is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated robbery and endangering two children who were at the home during part of the robbery.

Regina Stuart, who was dating Phillips at the time of his death, identified Dupree as one of the two men who forced their way into her home on that Wednesday night. She said the other man, Malek Brown, fired the shot that killed Phillips.

The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office said Dupree was one of four cousins who were implicated in the crime along with Brown.

Assistant District Attorney Trinity Muth told the jury in his opening statement that one of the cousins – Nicholas Dupree – had dated Stuart’s sister and was a frequent visitor to the home before the couple broke up. Muth said the men took the television sets after failing to find a safe in the home.

“They were going to do whatever it took to get some money,” he said.

Dupree’s lawyer, John Sullivan, told the jury that his client was at Stuart’s home on the night of the shooting, but that he had no idea that anyone was going to get robbed or shot.

“Reginald Dupree had no intention of helping Malek Brown rob anyone or murder anyone,” he said in his opening statement.

Sullivan said Dupree wasn’t feeling well on the day of the killing and asked Brown to take him to a Walgreens store to get some cold medicine. He said Brown agreed but said he had to stop first to get some money. Dupree, then 19, was listening to music through a headset as the men drove to Stuart’s home in the 3000 block of East Locust, Sullivan said.

Stuart told the jury that she and Phillips were baby-sitting her 5-month-old cousin on the night of the shooting. She said she was cooking a pizza when someone knocked on her side door, and Phillips went to see who it was. Stuart said she heard a scuffle followed by a loud noise.

“It sounded like a firecracker – a Black Cat,” she said.

“How many did you hear?” Muth asked.

“Just one,” she said.

She said Brown, who wore a black jacket and carried a black handgun, and Dupree, who wore a red hooded sweatshirt, both demanded to know the location of her money and safe. She said they eventually gave up and decided to take the family’s three television sets.

She said the 5-month-old, as well as a 3-year-old nephew who arrived at the home during the robbery, were not hurt.

The trial resumes Wednesday in the courtroom of District Judge Joseph Bribiesca. Brown is scheduled to stand trial Oct. 22.