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Kansas court upholds murder conviction over road rage death

December 30, 2021 GMT

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the first-degree murder conviction of a Topeka man over a fatal road rage shooting more than five years ago.

The court rejected arguments from an attorney for Andre Clark Rhoiney Jr., that the prosecutor made improper statements during closing arguments. A Shawnee County judge sentenced Rhoiney to life plus 13 months in prison, with no chance for parole for 25 years.

The shooting of 28-year-old Michael Stadler occurred in October 2016, when Rhoiney was 23. According to trial testimony, Rhoiney fired two shots at a van that Stadler was in after people in the two vehicles exchanged words and rude gestures.

Authorities arrested Rhoiney a few days later on a Greyhound bus in West Virginia. He initially gave them a false identity, and they discovered a pistol hidden near his seat, the high court said.

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Rhoiney’s attorney argued that he should get a new trial because the prosecutor said during closing arguments that Rhoiney’s behavior suggested that he knew “he wants to hide out,” according to the Supreme Court. The prosecutor also argued that the state wasn’t required to specify a motive for the shooting.

Justice Caleb Stegall wrote for the the court: “The prosecutor’s statements were a fair commentary on the evidence.”