Wichita man, 24, pleads guilty in fatal drug deal shooting near 21st and Amidon

A 24-year-old Wichita man pleaded guilty this week to voluntary manslaughter and attempted robbery in connection with a deadly drug deal shooting on May 24, 2021, according to the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office.

Luis Martinez-Contreras entered the plea Monday in the death of 22-year-old Jose M. Covarrubias at an apartment at 1616 W. 22nd St. North, near 21st and Amidon. He will be sentenced Dec. 15 by Sedgwick County District Judge David Kaufman, DA’s Office spokesman Dan Dillon said.

Wichita police have said Covarrubias was killed after a teenager who was part of a group planning to rob him during a marijuana sale pulled a gun during a fight. Martinez-Contreras, who set up the buy, told police he knew Covarrubias from middle school and told his companions that night that “they could probably rob” him of the drugs, according to an affidavit released by the court.

Martinez-Contreras told police he made a deal with Covarrubias over Facebook to buy the drugs for $210 and agreed to meet him in the apartment complex parking lot to complete the sale, the affidavit says.

Police have said an argument started after Martinez-Contreras and the group met with Covarrubias and that a 16-year-old fired shots around 11:40 p.m.

Covarrubias was hit in the back and foot, the affidavit says. One witness told authorities Covarrubias was shot as he ran from the fight. Police found his body in an apartment building hallway next to a sandwich-sized bag containing marijuana, an open pocket knife and a phone, according to the affidavit. He was pronounced dead shortly after midnight.

After the shooting, the would-be robbers fled in an SUV. Officers stopped it and arrested Martinez-Contreras, the teenager and two other men, 22 and 18, police said previously.

Martinez-Contreras claimed the argument started when someone in the group grabbed for a baggie of marijuana that Covarrubias had given him to inspect and Covarrubias pulled a gun in response, the affidavit says.

Martinez-Contreras was originally charged with first-degree murder and attempted robbery. He is currently in the Sedgwick County Jail awaiting sentencing, an online log of inmates shows.