TOPEKA — A month after Cleother Burrell turned up dead of 20 stab wounds in the hallway of an apartment building at 630 N. Topeka, the owner of a nearby bar called police saying he found a knife on his roof. Nearly a foot long, the knife became the centerpiece of the murder trial of Ronald Rhodes.
Problem was, none of the witnesses who claimed to see Rhodes with a knife said that was the same one. Bruce Elliott, the eye-witness to the killing of his roommate, couldn’t positively identify the knife, or Rhodes for that matter. Elliott, meanwhile, literally had blood on his hands. And his clothes.
These were among the details analyzed by students of Rebecca Woodman’s Wrongful Convictions class at the Washburn School of Law during their studies of the case.
Here are video excerpts of their presentations, analyzing the trial transcripts, evidence collected by police and the eventual appeal to the Kansas Supreme Court. You can also view them here.
(Music: Adam Walker)