Supreme Court orders new trial in Topeka homicide

TOPEKA, Kansas (AP) – The Kansas Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for a man convicted of a Topeka murder that occurred after an argument over a game of pool.

The court ruled Friday that James Arthur Qualls should get a new trial for the July 2008 shooting death of 30-year-old Joseph Beier in the Whiplash Bar. Qualls was convicted of first-degree murder after a 2010 trial.

The court said Shawnee County District Court Judge Jan Leuenberger should have instructed the jury to consider a voluntary manslaughter conviction. The jury was given options only for first-degree murder and second-degree intentional murder.

Qualls testified during his trial that he thought shot Beier because he thought the man was reaching for a weapon.

No weapon was ever found on Beier.

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