By BETSY WEBSTER
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (KCTV) — Friends and family of a Lee’s Summit West football alum who was murdered came together Saturday to remember him and prepare emotionally for the upcoming murder trial, which we’ve learned might be further delayed.
Dwane Simmons went on to play football at Washburn University in Topeka. He was six months away from graduation, his father said, when he was gunned down. That was more than two years ago.
“There’s not a day that goes by that you don’t think about it,” said his father, Navarro Simmons.
The community space at his apartment complex was warm and welcoming as he spoke. Crockpots filled with food lined the kitchen area. There were balloons and birthday cake and photos of Dwane Simmons. Every one of them, from kid to adult, showed a big, beaming, authentic smile.
“He was outgoing, the life of the party,” said Navarro Simmons. “That’s the reason why we’re here now, just to share memories.”
Before night fell, the group moved to the rooftop for a prayer and a balloon release.
Dwane Simmons would have been 26 on November 10th. He was 23 when he was killed.
“Dwane had the entire world ahead of him,” his father said.
The gathering was a chance to uplift each other and prepare them for the upcoming trial, in Topeka, of his alleged killer.
“We’re just hoping for a lot of love from the community, a lot of love for the family, a lot of prayer for us, because we know that we’re going to have to re-live everything that we went through that night,” said Navarro Simmons.
Dwane Simmons was killed in April of 2019 while leaving an off-campus party. Several others were injured by gunfire. Months later, 18-year-old Francisco Mendez was charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, and multiple counts of aggravated robbery.
The prayer Saturday was to prepare the Simmons family for the painful process on the horizon. It has been delayed numerous times. Navarro Simmons said past delays just gave them more time to bolster themselves. They weren’t quite ready emotionally. But now they are.
“We just want justice,” said Navarro Simmons. “That will help us move forward in the next phase of our lives and turn that page.”
The last information they got indicated the trial was set for the end of this month. Online court records, however, show that on November 2nd, it was postponed to March of next year. The family said they haven’t been notified of the change and hope that’s not the case. We’ve not been able to reach the court on a Saturday to confirm the change.
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