Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson announces that today, Thursday, March 21, 2019, Leavenworth, Kansas resident Christina L. Towell, 38, entered a plea of guilty to first degree murder - felony murder in the November 2017 homicide of Joel Wales.
“This was a heinous and calculated murder. We are very relieved to provide closure to Joel’s family,” stated DA Branson following today’s hearing.
Based on Kansas Sentencing Guidelines, Towell faces life imprisonment with no possibility of parole until after she serves 25 years. The Court ordered a pre-sentence investigation be completed, and set sentencing for April 18 at 3:30 p.m.
Earlier this year a jury convicted case co-defendant Tria L. Evans, 39, of first degree murder and other charges. The Court sentenced Evans earlier this week to the “Hard Fifty” sentence - life imprisonment with no possibility of parole until after she serves 50 years.
The case began on Friday, November 3, 2017 at approximately 9:30 p.m. when officers with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to a house fire in the 1100 block of East 1200 Road in Lawrence, Kansas. The person that called 9-1-1 also reported she heard an altercation, and she heard a woman yelling.
Wakarusa Fire Department extinguished the house fire and located Mr. Wales deceased. Dr. Erik Mitchell performed an autopsy on the victim and determined the victim had been shot six times and died as a result of those injuries. Dr. Mitchell was able to determine that an absence of soot in Mr. Wales’ lungs indicated he died prior to the house being set on fire.
Investigation by law enforcement revealed that Towell used her car to drive Evans to and from the scene of the murder. Investigators also discovered that Towell was involved both in the planning and in the commission of the homicide.
The Honorable Barbara K. Huff presided over the case. The case was investigated by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Lawrence Police Department, the Eudora Police Department, the Wakarusa Fire Department, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, the Topeka Fire Department, and the Johnson County Criminalistics Laboratory. Chief Assistant District Attorney Amy McGowan and Assistant District Attorney Nicole Southall prosecuted the case.
*Rule 226 - Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct
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