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The Kansas Supreme heard arguments this morning on whether a southeast Kansas gun shop may be held liable for selling a firearm that was later used by a convicted felon to kill his son.
The question before the justices was whether to reinstate a negligence case filed against Baxter Springs Gun and Pawn Shop, owned by Joe and Patsy George.
The case involves the 2003 murder-suicide of Russell Graham of Baxter Springs, a convicted felon who used a shotgun bought by his grandmother to shoot himself and his son at the boy's home in Topeka. Graham was initially denied the sale of the gun by the shop owners.
Elizabeth Shirley, wife of Russell Graham, filed the liability lawsuit against the gun shop owners. A lower court dismissed the case, but the Kansas Court of Appeals reversed that decision in 2010, ordering a trial.
The lawsuit alleges that Graham told the gun dealer he was a felon, after which the dealer sold the gun to his grandmother as a "straw purchaser." Within hours, Graham murdered his 8-year-old son Zeus and then committed suicide.
The lawsuit also alleges the Georges tried to conceal evidence of their crime by lying to law enforcement and by throwing away the videotaped evidence of the sale.