Murder case bound over

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times
Cordell M. Stewart

The case of a Leavenworth man charged with first-degree murder has been bound over for arraignment and a possible trial.

The decision to bind over the case of Cordell M. Stewart came Wednesday at the conclusion of a preliminary hearing. District Judge Gerald Kuckelman scheduled Stewart's arraignment for Sept. 17.

Stewart, 22, is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly shooting Floyd E. Ross Jr.

Ross, 31, was found lying in a street May 4 in the 400 block of Kiowa Street after he had been shot.

He was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time later, according to Maj. Dan Nicodemus, deputy chief of the Leavenworth Police Department.

During Wednesday's preliminary hearing, Detective Ryan Hoppe of the Leavenworth Police Department was called to testify by Assistant County Attorney Christopher Lyon.

Hoppe testified that he interviewed Stewart on May 14. The detective testified that Stewart said his dead cousins told him to shoot Ross because he was the devil.

"He said the voices told him to," Hoppe said.

During Hoppe's testimony, Lyon played videos that were obtained from security cameras at Bob Dougherty Park and the Richard Allen Cultural Center.

Stewart's attorney, Clinton Lee, objected to the videos being admitted as evidence, arguing the prosecution had not provided proper foundation.

Lyon cited a Kansas appellate court decision to support the admission of the videos.

After reviewing the case cited by Lyon, Kuckelman said he was allowing the videos to be admitted as evidence for the preliminary hearing.

Hoppe said a video from Bob Dougherty Park shows Stewart and Ross meeting at the park on the night of May 4.

Videos captured by cameras at the Richard Allen Cultural Center, which is located at 412 Kiowa St., show people walking in the vicinity of the center. Hoppe said what he believes to be muzzle flashes from a gun can be seen in one of these videos.

He said the videos correspond to information provided during the interview of Stewart.

During cross examination, Lee asked Hoppe if the defendant's statement about hearing voices caused the detective's concern about Stewart's mental state.

Hoppe said he did not know if this had been a defensive tactic.

Lee also questioned Hoppe about an incident in which Ross reportedly was involved in a physical altercation with a man who was not Stewart. The incident reportedly occurred two days before Ross' death.

Lyon objected to Lee questioning the witness about this incident. The prosecutor argued Ross' previous behavior was not relevant to the hearing.

Lee said the evidence could point to another potential shooter.

Kuckelman overruled the objection.

Hoppe testified the earlier incident occurred as a group of people were having a barbecue at Bob Dougherty Park.

Hoppe said there apparently had been concern at the time that Ross went into a bathroom with a girl.

In response to a question from Lyon, Hoppe said he had reviewed video of the incident and did not see Ross go into a bathroom with a girl.

At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, Kuckelman said the prosecution had provided minimal evidence.

"I don't know if the state could have gone with less," he said.

But the judge said he was binding over the case based on the low standard for burden of proof for preliminary hearings.

Stewart will be asked to enter a plea during his Sept. 17 arraignment.

He remains in custody at the Leavenworth County Jail.

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