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'He was a man and stood up to his actions': Brother of slain KCK deli owner reacts to guilty plea

David Edwards, Dennis Edwards Brother
Posted at 5:40 PM, Aug 24, 2021

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Kansas City, Kansas, deli where the owner and one of his customers died in a shooting is no longer open. It's been two years since the violence at Edwards Original Corner Market and Deli, but on Tuesday there was some headway on the road to justice.

Jermelle A. Byers pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of felony murder in the deaths of Lachell Day and deli owner Dennis Edwards, according to a spokesperson for the Wyandotte County District Attorney's office.

On July 10, 2019, Edwards was at his deli on 81 North Mill Street when Day, a customer he knew well, walked in after arguing with Byers.

Byers followed her in and began shooting, killing Day and Edwards.

"Neither one of them deserved this. Neither one of these people deserve this family, it’s sad. It’s very sad," David Edwards, Edwards’ brother said Tuesday in an interview with KSHB 41 News.

With a jury already picked, Byers, who was wounded in a standoff with police that day, brokered a deal and pleaded guilty.

"He was a man and stood up to his actions today," David Edwards said. "He plead guilty, he admitted. And that brung [sic] closure to the family. He’ll get to visit his family through the years, but I won’t be able to visit mine, I’ll have to talk to him through the good Lord."

Byers also was initially charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer for the exchange of gunfire with a KCK police officer and aggravated assault with a firearm against an unidentified victim.

Edwards' family said the deal Byers made would get him two life sentences with the hard 25 for both. It'll be up to a Wyandotte County judge to decide whether he serves those concurrently or consecutively.

"At least I know that he wouldn't probably never get out if it's done right," David Edwards said.

A motorcycle that David Edwards bought from his brother is one way he remembers him.

"I ride it every day," David Edwards said while sitting on the bike. "It will never leave me."

David Edwards also remembers the conversations he and his brother had before Dennis died at the age of 62.

"There's a lot of times I look at the phone and wait for him to call," David Edwards said. "That's the memories. Ten years of memories of him calling me or coming by and seeing me one way or another."

Byers' sentencing is set for Oct. 19. That evening, Edwards' family is planning to hold candlelight vigil at the site of the shooting to honor the victims.