Kansas woman sentenced for murdering, burning of ex-boyfriend near Lawrence

LAWRENCE, Kan. — A Kansas woman has been sentenced for killing her ex-boyfriend whose body was found inside a burning home near Lawrence.

Tria L. Evans, 39, was sentenced for the first degree murder of Joel Wales, conspiracy to commit first degree murder, arson and aggravated burglary.

Evans was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 50 years, according to Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson.

On Nov. 3, 2017, officers were sent to a house fire near Lawrence. A person who called 911 reported she heard an altercation and she heard a woman yelling.

Fire crews extinguished the house fire and found Wales deceased. Following an autopsy it was determined the victim had been shot six times and died as a result of those injuries. Wales died before the house was set on fire, according to the autopsy.

Due to multiple child custody plan disagreements, law enforcement was aware of issues between Evans and the victim. The victim had also reported to law enforcement his fear that Evans would kill him.

Police learned during the investigation that Evans called Wales 69 times on the day she murdered him. They also
discovered the box for a Smith and Wesson Bodyguard .380 caliber handgun in Evans’ bedroom closet with a receipt reflecting a purchase date of June 20, 2016.

Later testing on the bullets and casings recovered from Wales’ body and the crime scene reflected they were fired from that exact model of gun. The gun was never recovered.

Christina L. Towell, 38, of Leavenworth is currently set for a jury trial to begin on March 25. She is charged with murder in the first degree, conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree, arson, and aggravated burglary.

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