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Thread: James Kraig Kahler - Kansas Death Row

  1. #1
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    James Kraig Kahler - Kansas Death Row

    Karen Kahler and her daughters,
    Emily, 18, and Lauren, 16

    Dorothy E. Wight, 89

    James Kraig Kahler

    A former Columbia, Mo., city official will face the death penalty if he's convicted of the Thanksgiving weekend 2009 shooting deaths of 4 family members.

    Prosecutors said Monday they will seek the death penalty when James Kraig Kahler goes on trial in August in the deaths of his estranged wife, two daughters and his wife's grandmother in Burlingame, Kan.

    The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that during Kahler's arraignment on Monday, assistant attorney general Amy Hanley said the crime deserves a death penalty because the crimes were especially heinous and involved more than one victim.

    Kahler's trial is scheduled to start Aug. 8.

    Kahler was director of the Water and Light Department in Columbia, Mo., until shortly before the shootings.


  2. #2
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    Kahler attys to judge: suppress his statement

    LYNDON — Whatever capital murder defendant James Kraig Kahler told an investigator during questioning shouldn't be heard by Osage County District Court jurors during his trial, Kahler defense attorneys have told the district court judge in a motion.

    But if Kahler is convicted of capital murder, he "likely" would receive the "discriminatory application of the death penalty," defense attorneys wrote in a motion challenging the constitutionality of the Kansas death penalty.

    Chief Judge Phillip Fromme should suppress Kahler's statement to former Kansas Bureau of Investigation special agent, defense attorneys Tom Haney and Amanda Vogelsberg wrote in a motion.

    Motions to suppress Kahler's statement, a defense motion challenging the Kansas death penalty and other motions are to be heard at an all-day motion hearing on Thursday (June 16).

    The three-week trial of Kahler, 48, starts Aug. 8 in the Osage County Courthouse in Lyndon.

    On the constitutionality of Kahler's statements, anything he said or did before he received the Miranda warning should be inadmissible and should be suppressed, Haney and Vogelsberg said. The Fifth Amendment guarantees the right against self-incrimination, and the Miranda warning includes the right to have an attorney present during questioning and the right to remain silent.

    The agent read the Miranda warning to Kahler, then said, "Do you understand each of those rights I've explained to you? Having these rights in mind, is it OK if we talk at this time?" defense attorneys wrote. Kahler said, "yes."

    The agent asked a "confusing and compounded question," defense attorneys said.

    Kahler's answer "neither indicates that he completely understood the nature of the right he abandoned nor fully understood the consequence associated with abandoning it," defense attorneys said, and Kahler didn't sign a written waiver of rights.

    In challenging the death penalty, defense attorneys said it is unequally applied and discriminatory, adding the penalty is applied "overwhelmingly to defendants who have been convicted of killing Caucasian women."

    Of the 10 men on death row, seven or eight have been convicted of killing Caucasian women, defense attorneys said, and it is likely it would be imposed on Kahler if he is convicted. In the Kahler case, the four victims are white women as is Kahler.

    Other factors to challenging the death penalty are that it is:

    cruel and unusual.

    the lethal injection of inmates is cruel and unusual.

    Kansas’ laws lack procedural and constitutional due process in the jury instructions.

    Kansas unconstitutionally abolished the insanity defense replacing it with an unconstitutional partial mental illness defense.

    Kansas lacks a means to force out-of-state witnesses to testify other than an act that is "cumbersome, time-consuming and unreliable."

    Prosecutors haven't filed answers to the challenges to Kahler's statement to law enforcement nor the constitutionality of the death penalty.

    In other motions:

    Noting jury selection could be "a complicated and time-consuming process," Osage County Attorney Brandon Jones asked Fromme to decide the selection process. The process for summoning jurors, having them complete questionnaires, questioning them and choosing them needs to be decided in advance so prosecution and defense lawyers can plan ahead, Jones wrote.

    Prosecutors said a defense motion to discharge the panel of prospective jurors because the Osage County jury selection method "violates both the spirit and letter" of Kansas law is "premature and without legal merit."

    Defense attorneys contend jurors should be chosen from the entire 4th Judicial District and from a broader source than just residents with driver's licenses, the Kahler defense wrote.

    But assistant attorney general Amy Hanley cited State of Kansas v. Mayberry, a 1991 case in which a jury was chosen in Reno County in which the list of prospective jurors came only from registered driver's license holders, the method used in Osage County.

    Expanding jury selection to residents of Franklin, Coffey and Anderson Counties, which also are part of that district "is in direct contradiction of state law," Hanley wrote. Jurors must be residents of the county the trial occurs in, Hanley said.

    Prosecutors are moving the court for a security plan throughout trial.

    The trial might draw large attendance, and "the state believes a security plan needs to be put in place prior to the trial to assure a safe courtroom setting and an orderly trial."

    Prosecutors want witness Sean Kahler, 12, to testify in a room outside the courtroom, which would be televised in the courtroom on closed-circuit equipment. During the preliminary hearing, that procedure was used when the boy, the son of Kraig Kahler, testified he saw his father shoot his mother.


  3. #3
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    Capital Murder Trial Begins Monday

    Jury selection begins Monday in Lyndon in the capital murder trial of a former Missouri city official charged with the fatal shootings of his wife, two children and his wife's grandmother in 2009.

    The trial of James Kraig Kahler, of Meriden, is scheduled to last at least three weeks in Osage County District Court. If convicted, Kahler could receive the death penalty, which is by lethal injection under Kansas law.

    Kahler, 48, is charged with four counts of capital murder for the shooting deaths on Nov. 28, 2010, in Burlingame. He was the
    director of the Columbia City Water and Light Department before
    moving to Kansas in 2009.

    Defense attorneys will argue that Kahler suffered a mental breakdown caused by financial pressures and the failure of his


  4. #4
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    Kahler's son among first set to testify

    LYNDON Among the first three witnesses to testify when the capital murder trial of James Kraig Kahler starts Monday in Osage County District Court will be his 12-year-old son, Sean.

    Other than Kraig Kahler, the boy was the only survivor to emerge from a house in Burlingame on Nov. 28, 2009, following a shooting rampage in which the boy's mother, two older sisters and great-great-grandmother were killed or fatally wounded.

    Kraig Kahler, a former Columbia, Mo., city official, is charged with capital murder; four alternative counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of his estranged wife, Karen Kahler, 44; daughters Lauren, 16, and Emily, 18; and Dorothy Wight, 89, Karen Kahler's grandmother; and one count of aggravated burglary of Wight's home in Burlingame, where the shootings occurred.

    During an earlier preliminary hearing, Sean Kahler testified he was at the Wight home in the kitchen when his father entered and shot the boy's mother.

    In the preliminary hearing, Sean, who was 11 at the time of the shootings, testified via a video hookup to the courtroom while he was in another room in the courthouse.

    During the trial, he is to testify in the courtroom in front of his father. If the boy appears especially troubled, he will be allowed to testify via the remote hookup.

    Called as witnesses ahead of the son will be two neighbors of Wight who testified in the preliminary hearing that they saw Craig Kahlers vehicle in Burlingame on the night of the shootings.

    In a list given to Kahler defense attorneys Friday, prosecution witnesses totaled 38 people during the first four days of the prosecution's case. There are 11 witnesses listed on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and five on Thursday.

    Witnesses will begin testifying after prosecutors make an opening statement. Kahler defense attorneys can make an opening statement at that point or do so after the prosecution's case is over.

    During the first week of the trial, a 12-member jury and three alternate jurors were chosen.

    During jury selection, the weight was heavy for some prospective jurors when they were asked whether they could cast the vote to sentence Kahler to death.

    "It would be the toughest decision I would ever make," a woman replied when queried by assistant attorney general Amy Hanley.

    The woman thought for a moment, then changed her answer to say it would be one of the top two toughest decisions she could make. She didnt elaborate.

    She finally answered she would vote for the death penalty "if that is what the law is."

    On the capital murder count, jurors have a two-part decision to make. The first is whether Kahler is guilty. If they convict him of capital murder, the second decision would be whether to impose the death penalty or sentence Kahler to prison without the possibility of parole.

    Selection of the jurors and alternates during two days didn't occur without occasional blips.

    A few said they had already made up their minds.

    One man said he would listen to the evidence, but " I won't change my mind."

    Two men said they didn't want anything to do with the court.

    "I don't really believe in it (the court)," one said. "I think (the verdict) is pretty obvious."

    Another said he didn't have a high regard for the court system.

    Several prospective jurors were released when they said they couldn't sentence anyone to death.

    "I couldn't do that for the guy that murdered my ex," one woman said in tears, explaining her former husband was a slaying victim.

    One strong advocate of the death penalty was dismissed when he said his was mind was "pretty much made up."

    Another prospective juror who was released from duty was a woman who dissolved into tears, then noted all the ties she had to Wight and Wight's family over many years.

    Another woman said she knew Wight because she had cleaned her home. The woman said she was concerned about being impartial and subsequently was asked questions gauging her suitability as a juror.

    "I feel like he's already guilty," the woman said suddenly. "I think I'm too close."

    She, too, was released from jury duty.


  5. #5
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    Atty: defendant in Kan. murder case mentally ill

    LYNDON, Kan. (AP) — A defense attorney says a former Missouri city official charged with killing four family members was mentally ill at the time of the November 2009 shootings.

    A capital murder trial for James Kraig Kahler began Monday in Osage County District Court. He is accused of murdering his estranged wife, their two daughters and his wife's grandmother at the grandmother's home outside Burlingame, about 20 miles south of Topeka.

    Prosecutors contend the murders were pre-meditated. Osage County Prosecutor Brandon Jones described Kahler as "cold-blooded and calculating."

    But Thomas Haney, a Topeka attorney representing Kahler, said during his opening statement that Kahler was a shell of a man who snapped because his wife was having a lesbian affair.

    The trial is expected to last three weeks.


  6. #6
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    Mo. murder suspect blamed divorce on lesbian lover


  7. #7
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    Slain wifes alleged lover to testify in Osage County murder case

    A Texas woman is expected to testify in a capital murder trial in Kansas, with defense attorneys suggesting she broke up the defendant's marriage through a lesbian affair and caused him to suffer a mental breakdown leading to the fatal shooting of his estranged wife, their two daughters and his wife's grandmother.

    Prosecutors planned to call Sunny Reese as a witness after resuming their case Wednesday against 48-year-old James Kraig Kahler. Defense attorneys also have subpoenaed Reese.

    Kahler is charged with killing his ex-wife, Karen, her grandmother and the Kahlers' two teenage daughters in November 2009, at the grandmother's home near Burlingame, about 20 miles south of Topeka.

    Prosecutors have focused on presenting evidence that puts him at the scene of the killings and identifies him as the gunman. Kahler could face the death penalty if convicted.

    Kahler's attorneys contend he snapped mentally because his wife had a lesbian affair with Reese and sought a divorce. The killings also occurred a few months after Kahler was asked to resign as water department director for Columbia, Mo., something his lawyers attribute to his declining mental health.

    Reese, of Weatherford, Texas, has not returned telephone or email messages seeking comment. Kahler, who usually goes by his middle name, lived in Weatherford with his wife and children before taking the Missouri job in 2008.

    Karen Kahler's divorce attorney, Dan Pingelton, of Columbus, Mo., testified Tuesday in the trial in Osage County District Court that she had told him Kraig Kahler brought her and Reese together. Pingelton said he was told Kraig Kahler saw Reese as "another partner" for the marriage because, "Kraig wanted to do a threesome."

    "She took the position that after Kraig introduced them, her and Sunny fell in love," Pingelton testified.

    After Tuesday's testimony, one of Kahler's lawyers said he'd never heard the claim previously.

    "Mr. Kahler's accused of doing a number of things," Thomas Haney of Topeka said during an interview. "That's one that I think is just a fantasy."

    The victims of the shootings were: Karen Kahler, 44; her grandmother, Dorothy Wight, 89, and the Kahlers' daughters, Emily, 18, and Lauren, 16. At the time of the killings, Kahler was living in Meriden, Kan., northeast of Topeka.

    The Kahlers also had a son, Sean, now 12, who was at the scene of the shootings but fled without being physically injured. He testified Monday, the trial's first day, that he saw his father shoot his mother.


  8. #8
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    Kahler begins calling witnesses on Monday

    The first witnesses capital murder defendant James Kraig Kahler will call Monday will be a Weatherford, Texas, couple who will testify about how Kahler's wife and her girlfriend began behaving inappropriately at a holiday party at their home, according to Kahler defense attorneys.

    The Kahler defense contends the former Columbia, Mo., utility director snapped in November 2009 when his marriage, his family, and his career disintegrated, in part due to his wife's affair with a woman, humiliating him.

    Defense attorney Tom Haney told jurors Kahler was overwhelmed and couldn't control himself, and Kahler was "mentally impaired to the point he was not responsible for his actions."

    Once prosecutors formally rest their case early Monday, the defense will begin calling witnesses in Osage County District Court.

    Don and Marina Coulter, the Texas couple, hosted a New Year's Eve party in 2008 in which Sunny Reese and Karen Kahler drank too much and kissed, Reese said this week.

    Another defense witness will be Stephen Peterson, a Kansas City, Mo., psychiatrist, who Kahler hired as his expert witness about the elements of mental disease or defect, excluding criminal responsibility of Kahler.

    Another defense witness might be Reese, who testified this week after prosecutors subpoenaed her. Reese wasn't released from the court order to testify and remains under subpoena.

    The unanswered question is whether Kahler will be sworn in to testify in his own case. A defendant doesn't have to testify in a criminal case, but if he does, he can be cross-examined by prosecutors.

    The Kahler defense is expected to last two or three days.

    If Peterson testifies, prosecutors will call at least one rebuttal witness, William S. Logan, a forensic psychiatrist hired by the prosecutors to evaluate Kahler and to be the prosecution's expert witness.

    It is unknown whether prosecutors might call other rebuttal witnesses.

    When the rebuttal witnesses are done, the jury will hear instructions from Chief Judge Phillip Fromme and closing arguments from prosecutors and defense attorneys.

    How long jurors deliberate on the case is up to them. If jurors convict Kahler of capital murder, they then must decide what punishment to recommend to the judge. Their choices are the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole.

    If they can't unanimously decide which penalty, it would be a prison sentence without parole.

    Significant testimony during the prosecution case included:

    -- Kraig Kahler's blood was found on a handrail and wall in the stairwell of the Wight home. Kansas Bureau of investigation witnesses conceded the Kahler could have left the blood during another visit over the years to the Wight home.

    -- Lauren Kahler and Wight told rescuers that Kraig Kahler shot them, and Sean Kahler, 12, testified he saw his father shoot his mother, Karen Kahler.

    -- Erik Mitchell, coroner and forensic pathologist, testified that of seven gunshot wounds suffered by the victims, six wounds were fatal shots, and one would have been survivable by itself. The Kahler women were shot twice each, and Wight was shot once.

    None of the wounds were immediately fatal, Mitchell said, and Wight died three days after being shot.

    -- Reese, 42, said she didn't break up the marriage of the Kahlers so she could be with Karen. Reese said she encouraged Karen Kahler to divorce her husband for her own safety.

    Kraig Kahler had suggested that the Kahlers and Reese have three-way sex, but they didn't, Reese said. Reese said Karen Kahler told her Kraig Kahler had physically abused her.

    -- Jurors heard recordings of Lauren Kahler first screaming for help because a gunman was in the house, and the wounded teen telling an Osage County deputy that her father shot her.

    -- Kahler had a bottle of prescription tablets for anxiety disorders, but didn't take any of the medication.

    -- Officers recovered three magazines of .223-caliber ammunition, but the AK-47 style semiautomatic rifle purchased by Kahler wasn't recovered.

    -- When a KBI investigator expressed concern the semiautomatic rifle might be found by a child, Kahler told him no child would find it.

    Kraig Kahler is accused of fatally shooting his wife, Karen Kahler, 44; the couples daughters, Lauren, 16, and Emily, 18; and Wight, 89, Karen Kahler's grandmother.


  9. #9
    Passed away.
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    The Phog
    Kahler might have been able to walk if he had only killed his wife...and did not shoot her so many times. The whole lesbian girlfriend thing would not be looked at too well in that county, sad to say.

  10. #10
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    Lesbian fan?

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