Christopher Pattillo, 18, convicted of first-degree murder in Topeka drive-by killing

Jurors reached verdict about 11:45 a.m. Monday; jurors started hour early

Christopher Pattillo, who was 16 when Brian Wade Miller was killed, was convicted Monday of first-degree murder in the drive-by Topeka shooting death of a 20-year-old man in 2016. Pattillo, 18, also was convicted of criminal discharge of a firearm at a residence, aggravated assault and aggravated endangering of a child younger than 18. (File/Shawnee County Jail)

Christopher Shawn Pattillo lowered his head, shaking it from side to side, after jurors convicted him Monday of felony first-degree murder in the drive-by Topeka shooting death of a 20-year-old man in 2016.

 

Pattillo, the motorist of the drive-by van, also was convicted of criminal discharge of a firearm at a residence occupied by a 7-year-old boy, aggravated assault and aggravated endangering of a child younger than 18.

Jurors acquitted Pattillo of the alternative charge of premeditated first-degree murder. A date to sentence Pattillo, 18, wasn’t scheduled on Monday.

Earlier Monday morning, Shawnee County District Court jurors asked for a read-back of testimony by Topeka Police Detective Jeri Cole, who interviewed Rebecca Igercic, who was the girlfriend of Pattillo at the time of the shooting death of Brian Wade Miller on April 8, 2016, in the 2000 block of S.E. Echo Ridge.

In part, Cole testified about what had been said to be the possible motives in Miller’s shooting death.

In one instance, Pattillo had a run-in with a rival gang member, Blake Miller, the brother of the slaying victim, at the West Ridge Mall shopping center on the day before the shooting death.

During the confrontation, Blake Miller was quoted as saying “It is Fifth Block before anything.” Fifth Block is a street gang in Topeka. The statement, followed by a phrase questioning his manhood, was intended as an insult to Pattillo.

Cole also said the police investigation showed that a Fifth Block member urinated on the grave of two rival gang members who were reported to be relatives of Pattillo, Cole said.

Cole obtained the information about the insult and the urinating on graves from Igercic during an interview of her at the law enforcement center.

The read-back lasted 30 minutes on Monday, then the jury returned to deliberations.

The jury — which started deliberating Friday —resumed deliberations at 8 a.m. Monday, which is an hour earlier than court normally starts. Monday was the sixth day of the Pattillo trial.

About 45 minutes before reaching the verdict, jurors asked two questions, including whether they should find Pattillo not guilty of a count if they couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict. District Judge Mark Braun answered that a verdict must be unanimous.

That jury question didn’t clarify which charge jurors were referring to when it appeared they were having difficulty reaching a unanimous verdict.

Meanwhile, the trial of De’Angelo Megle Martinez, who witnesses identified during the Pattillo trial as the gunman who fired 14 shots from the van driven by Pattillo, will start on July 31.

Martinez, 20, of Topeka, is charged with alternative counts of first-degree murder, criminal discharge of a firearm, aggravated assault and aggravated endangering of a child younger than 18.

On Friday, Pattillo took the witness stand to testify he didn’t intend to shoot anyone when he drove a van past two brothers, one of whom was fatally wounded.

He also denied knowing who fatally shot Brian Miller and repeatedly avoided even speculating who of the four men in the van fired the shots at the victim.

At one point, Pattillo testified it was more difficult to shoot someone from a moving vehicle rather than from a standing position.

To demonstrate, the seated Pattillo extended both arms as though aiming an imaginary pistol, moving his arms as though tracking a target while shooting from a moving vehicle.

Pattillo firmly denied knowing that a shooting was to take place as Pattillo drove past where Brian Miller, the victim, and his brother, Blake Miller, were visiting.

Pattillo denied he is a member of the Gangster Disciples, a street gang, but he admitted telling law enforcement officers three times he was Gangster Disciple and that he had been “blessed in” as a member in 2009.

The Topeka Capital-Journal was the only news medium in the courtroom on Monday.

Contact reporter Steve Fry at (785) 295-1206 or

@TCJCourtsNCrime on Twitter.

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