Man Charged With Killing Kansas Teen Kidnapped From Store Parking Lot Could Face Death Penalty

Tuesday, July 10th 2007, 5:56 pm
By: News On 6

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) _ A man accused of abducting a Kansas teenager from a store parking lot and strangling her was charged Tuesday with capital murder, making him eligible for the death penalty.

Edwin R. Hall, 26, also was charged with rape and aggravated sodomy _ counts that were necessary under Kansas law for 18-year-old Kelsey Smith's slaying to be considered a capital crime.

Hall already had been charged with kidnapping and killing Smith, but Johnson County prosecutor Phill Kline changed the premeditated first-degree murder count to capital murder.

Smith was kidnapped June 2 from the parking lot of a Target store in Overland Park, where grainy surveillance video showed her being confronted by someone and pushed into her car.

Her body was found four days later in a park about 20 miles away in Missouri.

Kline said he has not yet decided whether he would seek the death penalty, but the capital murder charge makes that possible. Kansas, which reinstated the death penalty in 1994, has not executed a prisoner since 1965.

Kline said he made the decision to file the capital murder charge after consulting with Smith's family and law enforcement, and further review of the evidence.

Hall's $5 million bond has been revoked, which is standard in capital crimes cases.

Citing Judge Peter Ruddick's gag order in the case, Kline said he could not comment on why it took more than a month to file the new charges or what evidence prompted the charges.

Hall's attorney, Paul Cramm, did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment and previously has refused to discuss the case with the media.

The defense filed several motions in June regarding DNA evidence, and Hall was expected in court on those motions Friday.

Also Tuesday, Hall appeared in court via closed circuit television to hear additional charges of aggravated indecent liberties. He is accused of having a sexual relationship in 2004 with a 14-year-old girl.

A hearing on that case was set for July 19.