Number of victims: 1
Date of murder:
Date of arrest:
Date of birth: 1993
Gary Bell Edens, 51
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas, USA
Pleaded guilty. Sentenced to 155 months, or nearly 13 years, in
prison on February 27, 2014
Topeka woman sentenced to 13
years for July 2013 murder of 51-year-old Lawrence man
By Stephen Montemayor -
February 28, 2014
Seven months after seeing his
father shot dead during an altercation at his Lawrence home, Jeremy
Edens stood in Douglas County District Court and directed his gaze at
the woman who pleaded guilty to the shooting.
“You took a good man’s life,”
said Edens, 29, who appeared while in custody and serving an unrelated
sentence in Henry County in Missouri.
He addressed 20-year-old Brittny
Marie Adams, of Topeka, who was sentenced Friday to 155 months, or
nearly 13 years, in prison for second-degree murder for the July 2013
death of Gary Edens, 51, at his home in the 600 block of Michigan
As part of a plea agreement,
Adams will serve her sentence on top of two additional felony counts
of threatening a Douglas County Jail corrections officer, for which
she was also sentenced to six months each. She must also be registered
as a violent offender for 10 years following her sentence.
Adams did not address the court
before District Judge Sally Pokorny handed down her sentence. During
his brief statement, Jeremy Edens referred to his father’s younger son
from a separate marriage, who was 6 at the time of the shooting, and
to two grandchildren who “have to grow up without a grandpa.”
“That was a selfish act you did
on July 17,” Edens said. “I don’t know if you feel any remorse or not
over this. Only God knows that.”
According to previous testimony,
Jeremy Edens and Gary Edens engaged in a struggle with Johnathan Rush,
29, of Wichita, after Rush drove Adams to the Edens’ home in search of
her missing car. A Lawrence Police Department detective testified in
December that Adams told investigators she had been abandoned in
Topeka by two women who took her car.
An altercation began shortly
after Rush and Adams approached Edens’ door. According to federal
court documents related to criminal gun charges brought against Rush
following the incident, Rush later told detectives that while the
Edenses struggled to gain control over Rush’s handgun, a gunshot was
heard and Gary Edens fell to the ground. Rush told investigators it
wasn’t his gun that fired.
Adams and Rush fled the scene in
Rush’s Pontiac Grand Am and made their way back to Topeka, where they
were stopped by a Shawnee County Sheriff’s lieutenant about 20 minutes
after the shooting. Rush told detectives that Adams threw a handgun
out of the window while on Interstate 70 on the way to Topeka and that
she later threw Rush’s handgun out the window shortly before being
stopped in Topeka, according to the federal court documents.
Rush is now serving a 40-month
federal prison sentence after pleading guilty in November to one count
of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Rush had a
prior felony conviction, for criminal possession of a firearm, in
Shawnee County in 2005.
Adams, meanwhile, at one point
saw charges against her increased to first-degree murder following a
December preliminary hearing that featured testimony from a former
Douglas County Jail cellmate who said Adams bragged about killing
Edens. Adams later pleaded guilty, on Jan. 17, to intentional
second-degree murder following plea negotiations. As part of the plea
agreement, Adams will serve her prison time without filing departure
motions related to sentencing or requesting probation.
Before Jeremy Edens finished
addressing Adams, who remained silent for much of Friday’s hearing, he
compared her sentence with the loss of his father’s life.
“You really got the good end of
the bargain,” Edens said.
Topeka woman pleads guilty in
July 2013 shooting death of Lawrence man
By Stephen Montemayor -
January 17, 2014
A 20-year-old Topeka woman
pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree murder in the July 2013
shooting death of Gary Edens, 51, of Lawrence.
Brittny Marie Adams will be
sentenced by District Judge Sally D. Pokorny on Feb. 28 in Douglas
County District Court.
Appearing in court on Friday,
Adams also entered a plea of no contest to two counts of felony
criminal threats made to a corrections officer at the Douglas County
Adams had been accused of
shooting Edens in the back of the head just outside the front door of
his home in the 600 block of Michigan Street on July 17, 2013. The
court proceedings so far have not revealed a motive for the killing.
Depending on her criminal
history, Adams faces between 12 and 54 years in prison for intentional
second-degree murder and five to 17 months each for the threats.
As part of a plea agreement, all
three terms would run consecutively and she would serve her prison
time without filing motions or requesting probation.
During a December preliminary
hearing, the prosecution, lead by Senior Assistant District Attorney
Eve Kemple and District Attorney Charles Branson, upped its charges to
premeditated first-degree murder. Adams was originally set to return
to court this week to get a trial date.
During a hearing last month,
Pokorny listened to testimony from witnesses that included Edens’ son,
Jeremy, and a former Douglas County Jail cellmate of Adams who said
Adams often boasted about causing Gary Edens’ death.
“She said she blew his brains
out,” said Jessic Eastman during testimony. Eastman said Adams told
her she killed Gary Edens and that she had also instructed Johnathan
Rush, a Wichita man who drove her to Edens’ home, to kill Jeremy Edens,
A Lawrence Police Department
detective testified that Adams told police Rush drove her to the Edens’
home in search of information about two girls who abandoned Adams in
Topeka, stealing her car in the process.
Adams and Rush were both arrested
in Topeka after the shooting. Lesser charges filed against Rush were
later dropped in Douglas County when criminal firearm possession
charges were taken up in federal court. Rush pleaded guilty in
November and awaits sentencing.
Edens’ death was the first
homicide in Lawrence since 2008 and the first of three that took place
last year. In November, 67-year-old Larry Hopkins was charged with
first-degree murder in the shooting death of his 61-year-old wife,
Margaret Hopkins. Marci Deshayna Cully is charged with second-degree
murder in the stabbing death of her boyfriend, Wayne Francisco, early
Topeka woman now charged with
first-degree murder in July shooting death of Lawrence man
By Stephen Montemayor -
December 18, 2013
The state has toughened its
charges against a Topeka woman accused in the shooting death of a
51-year-old Lawrence man earlier this year.
Brittny Marie Adams, 20, is now
charged with premeditated first-degree murder in connection with the
July 17 death of Gary Edens. Adams had been charged with second-degree
murder before Wednesday’s preliminary hearing.
Adams pleaded not guilty after
District Court Judge Sally D. Pokorny found probable cause to amend
the charges to first-degree murder. Both sides will now return to
court on Jan. 13 to set a trial date.
The prosecution’s request to
amend the charges followed testimony from a former Douglas County Jail
cell mate of Adams who told the court that Adams had frequently
bragged about killing Edens.
Jessica Eastman testified that
she shared a cell with Adams for two and a half days before Adams
requested a transfer. In that time, Eastman testified, Adams told her
she intentionally killed Gary Edens and had told Johnathan Rush, a
Wichita man who drove her to the Edens’ home, to kill Jeremy Edens,
Gary Edens’ son, before the two fled the home. Eastman described the
two nights she shared a cell with Adams as being filled with Adams’
boasting about Edens’ death.
“She said she blew his brains
out,” said Eastman, who also testified that Adams told her she held
her gun to the back of Edens’ head and pointed it upward to make it
look like the gun had accidentally discharged — something she said
Rush, had instructed her to do to create the appearance of an
Eastman’s testimony matched
accounts from one of the detectives who interviewed Adams several
times in the 48 hours after her arrest. M.T. Brown, a Lawrence Police
Department detective, told the court that Adams said Rush, 29, drove
her to the residence at 647 Michigan St. in search of two girls who
abandoned Adams in Topeka and took off with her car.
In one of her interviews with
detectives, Adams said that her gun fired as she hit Edens “in a
swiping motion” when Edens and his 29-year-old son, Jeremy, struggled
Jeremy Edens, who is now in
custody in another county on charges unrelated to this case, also
testified that he was at the home at which Gary Edens was said to have
been living since January when he saw his father answer the door and
noticed Adams and a man at the doorstep. Jeremy Edens said he had met
Adams through a mutual friend at the same location the Sunday before
the shooting, and that he became concerned when he saw his father step
outside and close the door.
Though it was unclear who made it
known that Adams and Rush had guns, Jeremy Edens said a struggle began
soon after he went outside. He said he grabbed Rush as Rush reached
for a gun.
Brown testified that Adams told
him she brought two handguns to the home to intimidate residents as
she looked for information about the girls who allegedly had her car.
The gun that was fired into Edens’ head, Brown said, was stored in the
waistband of a pair of shorts Adams wore under a summer dress.
Jeremy Edens said he heard a
gunshot as he struggled with Rush and soon saw his father on the
ground, not moving. After hearing the shot, Edens said, he released
his grip on Rush and took cover behind a recreational vehicle parked
outside the home. Edens said Rush pointed a gun at him but didn’t fire
before fleeing in a purple Pontiac with Adams.
Brown and Eastman both shared
accounts of Adams later describing how she wiped down the gun
allegedly used to shoot Edens before throwing it out of a window in
Topeka. Brown also said Adams destroyed her cellphone and also threw
it out of the car’s window after fleeing the scene.
The prosecution, which is being
led by District Attorney Charles Branson and Assistant District
Attorney Eve Kemple, cited the testimony that Adams pulled the gun out
of her waistband and shot Edens at close range, evidence that Adams
regularly carried loaded guns and that she tried to dispose of the gun
and phone after the shooting as sufficient ground on which to increase
“There’s no set amount of time
that equals or translates into first-degree murder,” Kemple said,
referring to the premeditation requirement in the first-degreee
charge. “Just the thought going into it.”
Rush and Adams were arrested in
southeast Topeka within an hour after Edens’ death, which was reported
to police at about 6:20 p.m. Gary Edens’ then-7-year-old son was also
present at the time of the shooting. Edens’ widow, Susan Burris
attended Wednesday’s hearing, which also included testimony from the
county coroner and a Lawrence police officer who responded to the
Edens’ death was the first
homicide in Lawrence since 2008 and one of two to take place in 2013.
In November, 67-year-old Larry Hopkins was charged with first-degree
murder in the shooting death of his 61-year-old wife, Margaret
Hopkins, over concerns about her health.
If convicted of first-degree
murder, Adams faces the possibility of life in prison without the
possibility of parole. She remains in Douglas County Jail on a
Rush was arrested on suspicion of
lesser charges, including aggravated assault, obstruction and criminal
possession of a firearm. Those charges were dismissed in Douglas
County when the criminal firearm possession charges were taken up in
federal court. Rush pleaded guilty to the federal charge on Nov. 18
and is awaiting sentencing. He remains in federal custody and faces up
to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Topeka woman, 19, charged with
murder in killing of Lawrence man
By Ian Cummings - Ljworld.com
July 19, 2013
A 19-year-old Topeka woman has
been charged with murder in the shooting of a 51-year-old Lawrence man
Wednesday. A Wichita man also arrested in the case is facing lesser
charges, including aggravated assault.
Douglas County prosecutors charged Brittny M. Adams with second-degree
murder today in Douglas County District Court, where she appeared via
video from Douglas County Jail. Adams was arrested in Topeka Wednesday
along with Jonathan R. Rush, 28, of Wichita, less than an hour after
police found Gary Edens, 51, shot and killed at his home in the 600
block of Michigan St.
Edens' killer may have arrived at
the home looking for someone else, said Susan Burris, Edens'
common-law wife. She said Lawrence police told her the shooter was
looking for a person associated with Edens' adult son, who was staying
at the residence temporarily.
A neighbor who performed CPR on
Edens said the man had been shot in the head. Edens was pronounced
dead at Lawrence Memorial Hospital a short time after police responded
to the shooting about 6:20 p.m. Wednesday.
The owner of the residence, James
Dunn, said Edens had lived there since January. Two sons, an adult and
a child, were at home with Edens when he was killed, Dunn said.
There had not been a murder
reported in Lawrence since 2008, a year that saw four murder cases in
Douglas County Chief Judge Robert
Fairchild set bond in Adams' case at $100,000. In addition to the
murder charge in Douglas County, Adams also faces charges of theft and
obstruction in Shawnee County in an unrelated case.
Rush, also appearing in court via
video today, has been charged with aggravated assault, obstruction,
and criminal possession of a firearm. Fairchild set bond in Rush's
case at $75,000, partly because Rush has a criminal record in Shawnee
County, where he was convicted of criminal possession of a firearm in
2005 and attempted robbery in 2007.
Both Adams and Rush are scheduled
to appear in court again on July 29.