Man convicted of killing Topeka officer found dead in cell

EL DORADO, Kan. (KSNT) — A Topeka man convicted of killing a Topeka police officer, was found dead at a Kansas correctional facility on Christmas Eve.

Ross Preston Lane was found unresponsive in his cell at El Dorado Correctional Facility around 10:23 a.m. on Christmas Eve (December 24, 2015), says Adam Pfannenstiel with the Kansas Department of Corrections.

Staff began a full medical response immediately, then medical care was transferred to Butler County EMS at about 10:40 a.m. At approximately 10:59 a.m., Lane was pronounced dead.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation was made aware of Lane’s death in accordance with state law and they are conducting an investigation.

Because the investigation is ongoing, no further information is currently available to the public.

On Saturday evening, a local newspaper reported that postings were being made on Facebook saying that Lane had died. However, the Kansas DOC did not confirm his death until Sunday morning.

Lane, 32, was convicted in the Sept. 7, 2014 killing of Cpl. Jason Harwood. The Topeka police officer shot was killed in the line of duty during a routine traffic stop in which he pulled Lane’s car over for speeding. The 15-year police veteran left behind a wife and two sons.

Records show Lane told another person in the car that he didn’t want to go back to prison, then he pulled a gun from between the seats and shot Harwood. Lane was taken into custody several hours later after he called a Topeka television station and said he wanted to turn himself in.

On July 10 of this year, Lane pleaded guilty to three counts against him, including capital murder. By changing his plea from “not guilty” to “guilty,” he avoided the death penalty.

On July 24, Lane was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in Shawnee County District Court. Lane had been at the El Dorado prison since Aug. 3.

KSNT News was able to conduct a phone interview with one of Harwood’s brothers, Casey Harwood, who heard about Lane’s death on Christmas. He said:

In a way it gives us a little bit of closure. But in another way, it doesn’t. In the grand scheme of things, all it really does is takes a little more burden off of our shoulders. We don’t have to think of this guy anymore.

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