Man Accused Of Kidnapping, Strangling Kansas Teen Makes First Court Appearance
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) _ A man charged with kidnapping a teenager from a parking lot and strangling her appeared in court on Thursday, sitting within feet of the victim's parents.
A defense lawyer asked that Edwin R. Hall remain jailed in Johnson County so the two could more easily review evidence in the case. Judge Peter V. Ruddick did not rule on the request but set a hearing for Aug. 15.
Hall, 26, has been held on $5 million bond since being charged June 7 with premeditated first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping of 18-year-old Kelsey Smith.
In a crime recorded by security cameras, Smith was abducted from outside a Target store in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park on June 2. Her body was found four days later near a lake about 20 miles away in Missouri, and police arrested Hall on the same day.
Authorities said Smith was strangled but would not say what was used.
Hall, who was shackled at the wrists and ankles, was brought into court Thursday separately from six other inmates. He was seated about six feet away from Smith's parents.
It was the first time Smith's parents, Greg and Missey Smith, had seen Hall in person, but they said afterward they had no reaction.
``He doesn't matter,'' Missey Smith said. ``Kelsey matters. You want to talk about Kelsey, we'll talk about Kelsey. He doesn't matter.''
Hall's current charges do not carry the death penalty, but District Attorney Phill Kline said after the hearing that a capital charge could still be filed. He said that to do so, he would have to notify federal authorities within five days of arraignment.
``That does not necessarily mean that we will ask for the death penalty,'' Kline said. ``That comes later.''
Hall faces at least 25 years in prison if convicted of the murder charge and more than 12 years on the aggravated kidnapping count.
Kline's comments came at a news conference in his office after the court appearance. On Wednesday, Ruddick issued a gag order limiting what lawyers, police and others in the case can discuss with the media. Defense lawyer Paul Cramm has declined to comment to the media.
Kline also said there was a chance the case could be tried elsewhere.
``High profile cases commonly involve a motion for a change of venue,'' Kline said.