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Trial begins in Topeka shooting that killed football player

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Posted at 11:06 AM, Mar 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 12:11:50-04

TOPEKA, Kan. — The trial for a man accused in a 2019 shooting in Kansas that killed a college football player and wounded a teammate of the victim, a man who now plays in the NFL, begins Monday.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Francisco Mendez is the only person arrested and charged in the case even though a prosecutor said at least three guns were used to fire 18 or more shots in the April 28, 2019, shooting.

Washburn University football player Dwane Simmons, 23, was killed in the shooting in Topeka. Corey Ballentine was shot and survived.

Simmons graduated from Lee's Summit West High School and was on track to graduate from Washburn a few weeks after he was murdered.

Mendez is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Simmons. He died at the scene from a single gunshot to the head.

Mendez is charged with attempted murder in the shooting of Ballentine, 25, who had been drafted hours earlier by the New York Giants.

Ballentine was shot once in the buttocks. He has played as a cornerback and kick returner with the Giants, New York Jets and Detroit Lions, and signed in January with the Atlanta Falcons.

Simmons and Balentine were leaving a party when the shooting happened. More than. 1,300 people turned out for a vigil to honor Simmons at Washburn.

Mendez's trial has been pushed back several times.

For jurisdictions that utilize the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline, anonymous tips can be made by calling 816-474-TIPS (8477), submitting the tip online or through the free mobile app at P3Tips.com.

Annual homicide details and data for the Kansas City area are available through the KSHB 41 News Homicide Tracker, which was launched in 2015. Read the KSHB 41 News Mug Shot Policy.