Affidavit details shooting, arrest in death of 17-year-old at west Wichita apartment complex
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A probable cause affidavit released Tuesday is detailing what lead up to the deadly shooting of 17-year-old Eric Stokes at the Morgan’s Landing Apartments in west Wichita.
Following the April 25 shooting, Wichita police obtained footage from several surveillance cameras located at the Morgan’s Landing and Magnolia Woods apartment complexes. According to the affidavit, It showed three people near a dumpster. One person in a white hoodie took it off and threw it in the dumpster. Officers later recovered a white “Champion” hoodie from the dumpster. Another video showed two people walk up to a trash container and throw something inside. Police went to the trash container and recovered a black and silver semiautomatic handgun. They also obtained home surveillance from residents who lived on North High Street.
On April 27, Wichita police shared still shots of the footage on social media and with several news outlets. A school resource officer with Goddard High School reached out to police and identified one of the people as 18-year-old Easton Palmer from the North High Street surveillance video. Later that evening, police received a call that Easton was staying at the home of Wendy Berns.
According to the affidavit, Berns told police Easton was dropped off at her home by someone who she believed to be his cousin. She said he asked if he could crash at her place. She said her home is a “safe place” and she told him no problem. Berns said Easton showed her a picture on Facebook and asked if it looked like him. She told him yes.
“Easton told Wendy that his brother Jaron killed that kid over there. Wendy asked him to be specific and Easton said that Jaron told him they were going over to rob them and not pay for their carts. Easton told her that Jaron shot a kid in the leg and that freaked him out so he took off running. He told her he no idea what was going down until he got there. Easton said they went there with Jaron and some girl but he didn’t know,” the affidavit reads.
Berns said he tried to convince Easton to turn himself in. She said she contacted a friend who then called the police.
According to the affidavit, police interviewed Easton and he said that he, his 25-year-old brother, Jaron, and a third person, went to the apartment to purchase “carts” or vaping cartridges containing “Dab,” or THC. Easton said his brother knocked on the door and pulled out a semiautomatic handgun. When a person Easton recognized as “Dax” answered the door, Jaron grabbed Dax by the hair and threw him on the ground.
Easton told police the third person entered the apartment and went into the back bedroom. He said his brother was demanding stuff when he saw a girl he knew as ‘Lexi’ come out of another bedroom and then go back inside and close the door.
Easton told police a gunshot was fired from the bedroom and it went across the hallway in front of him. When it happened, he said he ran past Jaron to the front door. Right after, he heard multiple gunshots, the document states. He said he and his brother then ran through an opening in a fence between the Morgan’s Landing and Magnolia Woods complexes.
Easton said Jaron took off a white hoodie and discarded it. He said his brother dropped the handgun in a trash receptacle near the complex. The details were confirmed by surveillance video reviewed and evidence recovered by Wichita police.
Wichita police also interviewed three other people who were in the apartment at the time of the shooting. Two said they believed the incident to be drug-related, including another 17-year-old who was shot in the leg. He told police that he was a drug dealer and sells marijuana to make money. He said he fired the first shot at the suspects with his 9mm handgun before “all hell broke loose.”
On Friday, Easton Palmer was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated robbery. A second suspect in the case, 18-year-old Breckyn Elliott, was charged with first-degree murder in the commission of a felony on Tuesday. Wichita police are still searching for 25-year-old Jaron Palmer.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call detectives at 316-268-4407, the See Something Say Something Hotline at 316-519-2282 or CrimeStoppers at 316-267-2111.
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