TOPEKA, Kan. — One of five people accused of strangling or smothering to death three others in a Topeka home has been sentenced to three life terms.

Joseph Krahn, 34, won’t be eligible for release for 150 years under the sentence imposed Friday, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports. He pleaded no contest last month to three first-degree murder charges in the March slayings of 19-year-old Matthew Leavitt, 38-year-old Nicole Fisher and 20-year-old Luke Davis. Prosecutors had considered pursuing the death penalty.

“This was a planned, intentional act,” Shawnee County District Court Judge David Debenham said during the 25-minute sentencing. “You followed through on that plan. The consequences of taking their lives will affect (victims’) friends and family forever.”

Asked if he wanted to say anything, Krahn responded: “No, your honor.”

Police Det. Jason Deutsch testified in September, during a preliminary hearing for three other suspects, that the violence stemmed from an unproven rape allegation against Leavitt.

Witness Richard Folsom testified at the hearing that one of those suspects, 19-year-old Shane Mays, was forced to participate to save his own life. Folsom said he and Krahn had gone to the Topeka home to try to sell or trade a shotgun and a watch in exchange for methamphetamine. They left when they weren’t able to get any meth, but then Folsom later took Krahn back to the home and watched as the victims were killed.

“It was pretty cold-hearted, the way it transpired,” District Attorney Mike Kagay said. “It was a brutal murder followed by another one followed by another one.”

Folsom said Krahn told Mays after the killings: “You’re one of the few who gets to see me kill and live.” Mays has pleaded not guilty to two murder counts. Folsom was charged with identity theft and interference with law enforcement.

“The sentencing was the best possible outcome, legally,” Matthew Leavitt’s mother said outside the courtroom. Shari Leavitt said she hoped lifetime incarceration would be miserable and a form of torture for Krahn.


Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.