Capital murder among charges filed in 2016 Topeka triple homicide
Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay announced Monday he had filed charges that included capital murder in an August 2016 triple homicide that killed a man, a woman and an unborn child at a southwest Topeka apartment complex.
Kagay identified the man charged as Yanez C. Sanford, 38, whom he said was arrested Monday in Independence, Mo., with help from Independence, Mo., police and the U.S. Marshal’s Service.
Kagay said during a news conference at Topeka police headquarters that Sanford faces charges linked to the gunshot slayings of Dominique Ray, 23; Camrah Trotter, 20, who was pregnant in her third trimester; and Trotter’s unborn daughter, who was to have been named Ariyah Trotter.
Ray and the Trotters were shot to death at Fairlawn Greens Apartments, immediately south of Topeka West High School at 5235 S.W. 20th Terrace.
Investigation revealed evidence that Camrah Trotter had also been raped, Kagay said.
He said he charged Sanford Monday with capital murder, first-degree premeditated murder, attempted murder, rape, kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated burglary.
Execution by lethal injection is among potential penalties for anyone convicted of capital murder in Kansas.
Kansas law allows for capital murder charges to be filed in a limited number of circumstances, two of which Kagay said applied to the killings at Fairlawn Greens Apartments.
Those are if multiple homicides occur within the same course of conduct and if a homicide victim is sexually assaulted before the homicide occurs, he said.
Kagay wouldn’t reveal whether Sanford knew the victims, saying that information would be made public later.
Topeka Police Chief Bill Cochran also spoke at Monday’s news conference. He described the filing of charges against Sanford as being a “great moment for the city of Topeka and the Topeka Police Department.”
Topeka Police Detective Victor Riggin was the lead detective on the case “and never gave up on it,” Kagay said.
The local Crime Stoppers program had recently asked the public for information to help it identify whoever killed Ray and the Trotters. Kagay wouldn’t say Monday if any tips received as a result helped bring about the charges against Sanford.
Sanford was being held Monday afternoon in lieu of a $1 million bond in the Jackson County, Mo., Jail, Kagay said.
Shawnee County District Court records show a jury in May 2017 here convicted Sanford of battery to a law enforcement officer, transporting an open container of alcoholic beverage and two traffic violations – all committed in September 2016 – while finding him not guilty of aggravated assault to a law enforcement officer and interference with a law enforcement officer.
Sanford was sentenced in that case to serve a total of 12 months in the Shawnee County Jail and pay fines, court costs and surcharges totaling $308, court records show.
Kagay, a Republican, is running for re-election against Democrat Joshua Luttrell in the Nov. 3 general election.
Kagay said he gave top priority to clearing two unsolved cases when he took office in January 2017, two months after he was elected. Those were the August 2016 triple homicide at Fairlawn Greens Apartments and the July 2015 gunshot killing in southeast Topeka of 5-year-old Lily Coats-Nichols. Jessie Dean Deshawn Hughes pleaded no contest in July 2019 to involuntary manslaughter and other crimes linked to the death of Coats-Nichols.
The Shawnee County Commission authorized Kagay last November to re-purpose his office’s capital murder/death penalty fund, which contained more than $95,000, to go instead to focus on investigating and prosecuting cold cases. Kagay said he used the money to create a job for a cold case investigator, whom he gave a list of unsolved cases to review and analyze for further investigation.
"Fairlawn Greens was at the top," Kagay said.
He said his office's cold case investigator was embedded within the Topeka police homicide unit to maximize efficiencies.
"Since that day, we have been working tirelessly as we seek to bring justice to the families that have waited so long," Kagay said.