Topeka man charged in Lee's Summit football player's death

July 15, 2019 - 6:26 am

TOPEKA, Kan. -- An 18-year-old Topeka man is charged with first degree murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of Dwane Simmons, a standout football player for Washburn University, who grew up in Lee's Summit, Missouri. 

Simmons was walking home with his friend and football teammate, Corey Ballentine. The two were leaving a house party in Topeka, where they were celebrating Ballentine's selection by the New York Giants in the NFL draft. 

Along with the murder charge, Francisco Alejandro Mendez is charged with attempted first degreemurder and five counts of aggravated robbery. Mendez has been in custody since May 1, when he was booked into jail on suspicion of three counts of armed robbery.

Forensic testing eventually tied Mendez to Simmons' murder. Ballentine was also injured. The rookie cornerback recovered well enough from a gunshot wound to the backside that he was able to join his teammates for practices ahead of the 2019 NFL season.

Mendez is held in Shawnee County on a million dollars bond. 

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