Court document details police finding murder victim and arresting a suspect

Local

Jessica Sanders (Courtesy Sedgwick County Jail)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A court document released to KSN Tuesday gives new details about the murder of a Wichita man April 19.

Jessica Sanders, 22, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Mark Howard, 64.

The investigation began when an employee of the QuikTrip at Kellogg and Broadway reported a woman tried to shoplift some items around noon that Sunday.

The probable cause affidavit says the business managed to get the items back and the woman left. An officer responding to the QuikTrip got a description of the woman and found someone matching that description on the southeast corner of Market and Orme.

The officer told detectives that as he approached the woman, she fired a gun. He said she did not fire it at him and that he did not see the gun, but he heard it and he saw a plume of smoke indicating a gun had been fired.

The officer called for additional officers while the woman kept walking away. He saw her enter a home at 818 S. Market and he took cover nearby while he waited for the other officers to arrive.

According to the affidavit, a neighbor heard the gunshot and heard the officer yelling at the female, telling her to stop. The affidavit says the neighbor went to the officer and said the person who lives at 818 S. Market is Mark Howard.

The neighbor told detectives that when he walked over and had contact with the officer, he called Howard’s phone and Howard answered.

The neighbor says he told Howard, “Hey, I think the female has stolen your gun and fired some rounds.”

The neighbor says that Howard replied, “Oh, really?”

The neighbor told detectives it sounded like the phone was on a speakerphone. He said a woman got on the phone and began yelling. The neighbor said he could not understand her, so he hung up.

The neighbor said he called Howard’s phone again and the woman answered and continued to yell. The neighbor told detectives he could not understand what she was saying so he hung up again.

The affidavit says that as police were setting up a perimeter around the house, the woman came out onto the front porch and yelled, “Everything is OK. Everything is OK.” She then went back into the house.

When enough officers had arrived, some of them approached the front of the home. A sergeant was able to push the front door open and began shouting announcements.

According to the court document, the sergeant noticed an older man sitting in a chair in the front room. The man was wearing a surgical mask that appeared to be covered in blood.

The document goes on to say the officers went into the home to help the man, but he was cold to the touch and did not have a pulse. It also appeared he had a critical injury to the right eye.

The officers said that because the man was dead, they returned to the perimeter of the house and called for SWAT.

SWAT arrived and took over the perimeter and began to attempt negotiations with the woman. Just after 4 p.m., a woman walked out of the house and was taken into custody.

Police identified her as Jessica Sanders.

Members of the SWAT team entered the home and a SWAT medic triaged the man as deceased. They say there were no other people in the house.

A deputy on the SWAT team said he found a shell casing near the chair where the man was seated and another in the kitchen area. The deputy also noticed a handgun appeared to be stuffed between the right arm of the chair and the couch cushion of the chair the man was seated in.

Police got a search warrant and say they collected the casings and the handgun. They say the chamber of the handgun was open and the slide was locked back. When the firearm was examined, they say there was a spent casing still in the chamber and the gun had a double feed malfunction.

Detectives say they tried to get a post-Miranda statement from Sanders, but she would only scream at them.

In a previous communication with the Wichita Police Department, officers said Sanders continually exhibited very erratic behavior, possibly induced by the use of illegal narcotics.

The affidavit says the autopsy showed Howard died from a gunshot wound to the head.

Sanders remains in the Sedgwick County jail with bond set at $200,000. The next court date for the case is May 7.

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