State Supreme Court Upholds Murder Conviction

The state Supreme Court has upheld the convictions of a northeast Kansas woman serving a “Hard 50” prison sentence for shooting the father of her child six times and setting his body on fire in his mother’s home.

The court unanimously rejected arguments from Tria Evans’ attorney that a Douglas County judge shouldn’t have allowed testimony that 34-year-old victim Joel Wales told others he feared Evans would kill him.

Secondhand testimony generally is barred in trials, but in the court’s opinion it was noted that state law makes an exception when a witness is not available.

Wales was killed while house-sitting at his mother’s home outside Lawrence.

Evans was convicted of first-degree murder and arson over Wales’ death in November 2017.

She was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 50 years.

The Supreme Court concluded that Wales’ statements to others helped show Evans had an “obsessive” relationship with him and planned his death.