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Man convicted of wounding a father and killing son collapses during sentencing hearing

A man convicted of wounding a father and killing his 34-year-old son collapsed during his sentencing hearing and was removed from the courtroom on a stretcher.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 30-year-old John Towner Jr. had just taken the oath to testify Thursday when he said, “I can’t breathe.  I’m about to pass out.”  After collapsing, he appeared to begin convulsing.  The Topeka Fire Department says he was transported to a local hospital.

Towner was convicted earlier this year of voluntary manslaughter and attempted second-degree murder in a January 2018 shooting that left John Austin Jr. dead and his father, John Austin Sr., wounded.  Towner was acquitted of attempted aggravated robbery and a more serious first-degree murder charge.

During the trial, Towner contended he shot the Austins out of self-defense.


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