Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Murder case begins long march to trial

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 7/8/2013

For those suffering in silence, it can be difficult to see the virtue in being patient.

But not for the wife of one rural Ottawa murder victim.

For those suffering in silence, it can be difficult to see the virtue in being patient.

But not for the wife of one rural Ottawa murder victim.

While some expressed disappointment Monday after learning the preliminary hearing for the man accused of committing a quadruple homicide this spring in rural Ottawa would not take place until at least late February 2014, Randi White, Ottawa, said she would remain patient if it meant justice would be served in the end.

Kyle T. Flack, 28, Ottawa, dressed in his orange-and-white Franklin County Jail jumpsuit, showed little emotion Monday as District Judge Thomas H. Sachse set the defendant’s two-day preliminary hearing for Feb. 24-25 in Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa. The hearing is to start at 9 a.m. both days.

After the 15-minute proceeding Monday, White — the widow of victim Steven White — said it was difficult to go back into the courtroom for each of Flack’s appearances. The gallery was filled Monday with family and friends of the victims, as well as supporters of Flack, who were there to witness the latest status conference in the grisly case that began with the May 6 discovery of a woman’s body under a tarp in a garage at 3197 Georgia Road, west of Ottawa.

“I’m OK with the length of time, if that’s what it takes to make sure everything is done right and justice will be served,” White said.

Early May discoveries

Three bodies discovered May 6 and May 7 at the Georgia Road residence were those of Kaylie Bailey, 21, Andrew Stout, 30, and White, 31. Bailey, along with her 18-month-old daughter, Lana Bailey, were reported missing May 3. Stout and White reportedly hadn’t been seen since late April.

“Give the kids hugs for me, and tell them I love and miss them,” Steve White told his wife April 18. It was the last time Randi White talked with her husband, she said.

Baby Lana’s body was recovered about dusk May 11 in Osage County by an Osage County Sheriff’s deputy, Jeff Richards, Franklin County sheriff, told reporters during a 1 a.m. May 12 press conference in front of his office at 305 S. Main St., Ottawa.

Flack was arrested by Franklin County Sheriff’s officers May 9 in connection with the four murders, and the Franklin County Attorney’s office filed criminal charges May 10 against Flack, including two counts of capital murder, four counts of murder in the first degree, one count of rape and one count of criminal possession of a firearm. The two capital murder charges make Flack eligible for the death penalty. Flack remains in Franklin County jail on $10 million bond.Sheriff Richards, other law enforcement officials and prosecutors have declined to discuss details of the case, other than to confirm a firearm was used in the commission of the crimes.

Some details likely sealed

Lead prosecutor Vic Braden, the state’s deputy attorney general, went one step further by filing a motion asking the court to seal all future pleadings in the case to protect the defendant’s constitutional rights and lesson the likelihood that the trial would be moved to another venue, he said.

A change of venue motion almost always is filed in these types of murder cases, Braden told the court, and the prosecution was requesting all pleadings be sealed to limit information getting out to the public and potentially tainting the prospective juror pool.

“We want to do all we can to mitigate the chance of the case being moved out of Franklin County,” Braden said.

The Kansas Attorney General’s office is serving as lead prosecutor, at the request of Stephen Hunting, Franklin County attorney, who sought to bring in additional prosecution resources for the quadruple murder case. Earlier in Hunting’s career, he served as an assistant attorney general for the Kansas Attorney General’s office as the domestic violence prosecutor, according to Herald archives.

Flack’s court-appointed Topeka attorney, Ronald Evans, an experienced defense counselor in capital murder cases, said he did not object to the state’s motion to issue a blanket seal of all future pleadings.

“Judge, we would join in that motion,” Evans said.

Sachse, however, ruled that he would take each pleading on a case-by-case basis in deciding if it should be sealed, rather than issuing a blanket seal.

The judge dealt with his first matter in the form of a motion filed by Hunting Friday asking that 13 objects be submitted for DNA testing. Sachse ruled the motion documenting those 13 items would be sealed.

Evans said he objected to proposed consumptive DNA testing of those objects, arguing that consumptive testing would destroy the evidence and deny Flack of his constitutional right to review all evidence. He asked the court to restrict forensics testing that would completely consume or destroy an evidentiary sample.

Sachse said he would make a ruling in the matter by the end of the week and notify both parties. He said his decision would be sealed.

Sachse scheduled four status conferences Aug. 29, Oct. 17, Dec. 19 and Jan. 16 to review motions to be taken up between now and the Feb. 24-25 preliminary hearing. All four status conferences are scheduled for 10 a.m. start times in district court.

Friends’

frustrations

Outside the courtroom, Amanda Wilson said she was frustrated by the “drawn out” court proceedings. Wilson was a close friend of Steven White, she said.

“I don’t like it to be so drawn out — all that does is cause more pain and suffering for the [victims’] families,” Wilson said.

Flack’s former girlfriend also said she was frustrated by the lengthy process.

“I dated Andrew Stout for awhile, and I also dated Kyle Flack,” Kayla Sword, 24, said. “After knowing both of them, I’m just sickened by what has happened. I have two kids of my own, and it scares me that Kyle was around them.”

Sword dated Stout for a short time in early 2011, she said.

“We broke it off because we were really just friends,” she said.

Then Sword started dating Flack later in 2011 but she broke it off in early 2012, she said.

“He started getting really aggressive a lot, and I wasn’t going to put up with it,” Sword said. “We went our separate ways.”

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