Lawrence man charged in double shooting, police chase believed conspiracy theories, fiancée testifies

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Decision on whether defendant will face trial delayed until January

The fiancée of a man charged with killing two people and firing a gun at police officers during a cross-town chase in July 2022 testified on Tuesday that the man had been acting strangely in the weeks leading up to the shootings.

Tuesday concluded testimony in the preliminary hearing for Rodney Ericson Marshall, 52, of Lawrence. Marshall was arrested July 31, 2022, in connection with fatal shootings at two separate locations in Lawrence, and an ensuing chase through town and eastbound on Kansas Highway 10 to Eudora.

Marshall is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, five counts of attempted capital murder, and one count of attempted first-degree murder.

The names of the men who were killed, Shelby Len McCoy, 52, and William Dale O’Brien, 43, appeared on what investigators referred to as a “snitch list” — a characterization the defense disputed — that was located during a search of Marshall’s home, according to testimony during the first part of the hearing, in August. (Read more from that hearing at this link.)

Crystal Fredericks, 36, testified Tuesday that the list didn’t actually belong to Marshall.

Fredericks said that at the time of Marshall’s arrest, the two had been dating for approximately two years and living together for one. Her appearance was delayed during testimony given in August for the court to appoint an attorney to protect Fredericks from self-incrimination.

She said Marshall had been behaving oddly in the weeks before the chase, and that the two were staying at a hotel rather than their home because Marshall believed he was in danger.

“He seemed a little off,” Fredericks said. “He thought there were aliens or something like that, and the ATMs were all going to shut down. People would tell him stuff and he would believe it.”

Lawrence police Detective M.T. Brown testified that although he was not directly involved in the chase, he arrived at the scene not long after Marshall was taken into custody and was given the task of driving him back to the police department to be interviewed.

Brown said Marshall began talking during the drive, so much so that Brown pulled over to read him his Miranda rights before they reached headquarters.

A Miranda statement informs arrestees that they have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney before they speak to law enforcement, and officers generally do not read it until a person is sitting for an interview in police custody — not immediately upon arrest, as shown in TV shows.

“He continued to make statements about that the individuals he had ‘taken care of’ and said it was part of some investigation he was doing with others involving child molesters,” Brown said.

Fredericks said the list containing the names of the deceased belonged to a friend who had stayed with Frederick and Marshall on an earlier occasion. Fredericks testified that the woman had called later asking for the notebook containing the list, but police had already taken it as part of their investigation.

Fredericks said Marshall had spoken with the friend about her theories and the notebook.

“My friend has conspiracy theories about sex trafficking,” Fredericks said. “What she tries to link up sometimes I don’t know.”

Defense attorneys Cline Boone and Matthew Cohen used their cross examinations to gather additional information about Marshall’s state of mind at the time of the arrest, and also whether police had violated his Miranda rights.

Brown testified that after he told Marshall he was going to pull over and read him his rights, Marshall told him to “do what you gotta do,” and then continued speaking not only in the patrol car, but also during his interview.

Cohen cited several instances cited in Brown’s notes where Marshall referenced having an attorney, and at one point stating that he had told police what happened and now wanted an attorney. Each time, however, Marshall continued speaking with investigators.

“Is it true that for two full hours you continued talking with Mr. Marshall?” Cohen asked.

Boone asked Fredericks if Marshall used prescription medication or illegal drugs. She was unclear in her response but stated that he had been “doing some wet,” which she then clarified for the court was embalming fluid.

She said she had no knowledge of Marshall using drugs specifically on the day of the killings or prior to the police chase the next morning. She also said that although she remembered the sound of gunfire, she could not recall whether or how Marshall was shooting at police as they sped through town. She also didn’t recall what, if anything, was being said in the car.

“I’m pretty traumatized by it,” Fredericks said. “It’s a big blur. I’m assuming I said something. I just don’t know what I said. I just remember screaming ‘pull over, pull over.’”

Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum submitted copies of the victims’ autopsy reports before Douglas County District Judge Amy Hanley concluded testimony in the case. Because the preliminary hearing was bifurcated — meaning split over two days with time in between — she would be postponing final arguments and a decision until attorneys could review transcripts of the entire hearing.

Hanley set a date for concluding the preliminary hearing on Jan. 11. At that time, attorneys would also review whether Marshall’s statements to police would be admissible if the case goes to trial.

Marshall remains in custody on $1.5 million cash or surety bond. In order to be released from jail pending trial, he would have to pay a bondsman about $150,000.

All defendants in criminal cases should be presumed not guilty unless and until they are convicted.

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Andrea Albright (she/her), reporter, can be reached at aalbright (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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Lawrence man charged in double shooting, police chase believed conspiracy theories, fiancée testifies

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