Topeka man convicted of murder in 1993 Lawrence carjacking up for parole

Parole is being considered for Abraham M. Orr, 42, a Kansas prison inmate who lived in Topeka in 1993 when he fatally shot a man during an attempted carjacking in Lawrence. (Kansas Department of Corrections)

The Kansas Prisoner Review Board is considering parole for convicted murderer Abraham M. Orr, who lived in Topeka when he fatally shot a man in 1993 during an attempted carjacking in Lawrence.

 

Orr, 42, is a low medium-security inmate at Hutchinson Correctional Facility, serving consecutive sentences of life imprisonment for first-degree murder and 32 months for attempted aggravated robbery of Edward D. Lees, 29, of Lawrence.

Authorities said Lees was killed about 7 p.m. Sept. 18, 1993, as he sat with his girlfriend, Dana Chang, and her 2½-year-old son and 15-month-old daughter — who were both asleep — in his Isuzu Trooper at the entrance to Lawrence’s Riverfront Park.

Trial testimony indicated that after a car containing Orr, James R. Wadley and Courtney L. Crockett broke down about one mile east of Lawrence on the Kansas Turnpike, the three set out on foot before Orr decided they should commit a carjacking. Orr had a gun, and Crockett carried a gun Wadley had given him.

Chang testified Orr and Crockett approached Lees’ car, they motioned for Lees to roll down his window, and Chang told Lees to “give them what they want,” but he instead put the car in reverse.

Orr and Crockett then turned away, appearing to have given up, before Orr turned back and shot Lees in the head from outside the vehicle, Chang said.

Wadley’s attorney, David Berkowitz, told jurors Orr was not a good friend of Wadley’s but had “invited himself” on the trip arranged by Crockett and Wadley to visit Crockett’s father in the Kansas City area.

Orr, who was 17 at the time of the killing, was convicted as an adult of the crimes involved.

Crockett subsequently served time in the Kansas juvenile corrections system on convictions for first-degree murder and attempted aggravated robbery. Wadley spent time on probation after being convicted as a juvenile of attempted aggravated robbery.

Orr has committed 56 prison disciplinary violations since 1996, though none since 2012, according to state corrections department records. Gov. Sam Brownback denied a request Orr made seeking a pardon in 2012.

The prisoner review board will hear public comments about the potential parole of any of 14 parole-eligible inmates, including Orr, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Jan. 19 in the Topeka Municipal Court chambers at 214 S.E. 8th.

The board also will accept comments from 10 a.m. to noon Monday at City Hall in Kansas City, Kan., and from 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 17 at the Derby Police and Courts Building at Derby in Sedgwick County.

Comments may be emailed to the board at KDOC_PRB_Public_Comment@ks.gov.

Inmates being considered for parole after serving time for crimes committed in this area also include Duereal D. Campbell, convicted of the first-degree murder and aggravated robbery of 44-year-old Wanda Norman, committed in 1997 in Riley County; and Darryl W. Manco, convicted of aggravated sodomy and indecent liberties with a child, committed in 1992 in Geary County.

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Reporter Tim Hrenchir can be reached at (785) 295-1184 or @timhrenchir on Twitter.

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