Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Murder hearing reopened to public, moved to March

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 2/10/2014

An evidentiary hearing originally set for Thursday in a quadruple homicide case will be open to the public after all. But the date of the proceeding has been changed.

Franklin County District Judge Thomas H. Sachse in mid-January granted a motion filed by the prosecution to close Thursday’s hearing in the Kyle T. Flack, 28, capital murder case.

An evidentiary hearing originally set for Thursday in a quadruple homicide case will be open to the public after all. But the date of the proceeding has been changed.

Franklin County District Judge Thomas H. Sachse in mid-January granted a motion filed by the prosecution to close Thursday’s hearing in the Kyle T. Flack, 28, capital murder case.

But two weeks later, Stephen Hunting, Franklin County attorney, filed a motion on behalf of the prosecution team of Victor Braden, deputy attorney general for the state of Kansas, Hunting and James Ward, assistant Franklin County attorney, to withdraw its request that the evidentiary hearing be closed to the public, according to a court document.

The prosecution team has not been willing to discuss the Flack court proceedings, but in the motion Hunting cited review of “Waller v. Georgia” and “State v. Cox” as a basis for withdrawing the request to close the hearing, according to the court document.

In “State v. Cox,” a 2013 case that went before the Kansas Supreme Court, defendant Ryan Cox’s attorneys challenged the district court’s decision to clear the courtroom during testimony while photographs of the victims’ genitalia were displayed and discussed because the defense said it violated Cox’s right to a public trial under the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Cox was appealing jury convictions of two counts each of aggravated criminal sodomy and aggravated indecent liberties with a child. He was sentenced to concurrent prison terms of 165 months on each sodomy count and 61 months on each indecent liberties count.  

The Supreme Court reversed Cox’s convictions for aggravated criminal sodomy and aggravated indecent liberties with a child and remanded the case to district court for a new trial because the High Court said Cox’s right to a public trial was violated.

Ronald Evans, Flack’s court-appointed lawyer, did not object to opening the hearing, the court document indicated.

“I would expect this would draw some response from media lawyers if we start closing hearings,” Evans said during a January status conference. “Sometimes it generates more publicity than otherwise, and we’d like to try this case in this county. I don’t want to stir up publicity that I’m later going to object to or at least the effects of publicity in a motion to change venues.”

Flack has been charged in connection with the murder of three adults and an 18-month-old girl in early May 2013. If convicted, he could face the death penalty. Three adult bodies were found May 6 and May 7 at a residence at 3197 Georgia Road, west of Ottawa. The infant’s body was discovered about dusk May 11 in Osage County by an Osage County Sheriff’s deputy.

Flack was arrested by Franklin County Sheriff’s officers May 9 after being apprehended in Emporia.

In a separate motion, the prosecution asked that Thursday’s hearing be continued to 9 a.m. March 11, before the start of Flack’s preliminary hearing in Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa. The reason cited in the motion was that a prosecution witness was not available to testify Thursday. Evans did not object to rescheduling the hearing.

Judge Sachse granted the motion and set the evidentiary hearing for 9 a.m. March 11, to be heard just prior to the start of the preliminary hearing.

comments powered by Disqus