Dunn convicted in 1994 double murder
Dunn convicted in killings Cohort’s testimony vital in determining guilt for 1994 double murder.
CINDY EBERTING Staff Writer
PUBLICATION: The Kansas City Star
DATE: August 24, 1996
When Elliott Dunn was a suspect in a 1994 double murder, he told detectives: “I would have told the truth if I thought you had enough evidence to convict me. ” Dunn spoke too soon.
Friday afternoon, after nearly 9 hours of deliberation, a Jackson County Circuit Court jury convicted Dunn, 21, in the 1994 murders of Larry Harbin and Johnny Stewart. Jurors found him guilty in two counts each of first-degree murder and armed criminal action. The convictions bring an automatic sentence of life without parole.
But the road to convict Dunn wasn’t easy.
Jeff Bushur, an assistant county prosecutor, said: “We finally got the justice he deserved. ” The first round of murder charges filed against Dunn was dismissed in December 1994 when witnesses turned up missing and others refused to cooperate before the trial, Bushur said.
After Dunn’s release, prosecutors and police worked for the cooperation of Dunn’s co-defendant, Albert Richmond, who was 16 at the time of the murders. Richmond was certified to stand trial as an adult in the case.
Eventually, Richmond pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, a reduction from second-degree murder, and agreed to testify against Dunn. By last December, Cmurder charges were refiled against Dunn, and he was indicted.
He wasn’t picked up by police until February when officers, not knowing who he was, stopped him for speeding down Troost Avenue.
After Dunn gave police his license, he drove off, hitting a police officer’s leg and running over another officer’s foot. Officers captured Dunn after a chase.
In this week’s three-day trial, prosecutors called Dunn arrogant and cocky while they argued that he had planned the two “cold-blooded, brutal murders,” Bushur said.
The murders occurred March 1, 1994, and started out as a robbery.
Dunn, 19 at the time, and Richmond planned to rob Harbin, a crack dealer, and Stewart, his partner, of money and drugs.
Both men climbed into the back of Harbin’s car in the 3000 block of Oakley Avenue. But just before the transaction, Dunn shot Harbin, and Richmond shot Stewart once before his gun jammed. Dunn fired more shots into Stewart’s back, which ultimately killed him, according to court testimony.
As Harbin’s Cadillac ran into a utility pole, both Dunn and Richmond ran.
By the time the case came to trial this time, there was no physical evidence linking Dunn or Richmond – or anyone – to the crime scene. With some witnesses still unwilling to cooperate, jurors were left with Richmond’s testimony and Dunn’s statement.
“What you basically came down to was Albert Richmond,” Bushur said. “A good part of it was you either believe him or you don’t. ” One of Dunn’s attorneys, John Picerno, argued that Richmond’s testimony wasn’t credible because he changed his statement after renegotiating his plea deal.
Dunn also had changed his statement.
“He (Dunn) changed his story four times, and he’s expecting you to believe that,” argued Jill Smith, an assistant prosecutor.