Man charged with murdering 4 at Kansas home

Thursday, June 25, 2009 | 3:48 p.m. CDT; updated 4:44 p.m. CDT, Thursday, June 25, 2009

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A 37-year-old man was charged Thursday with murdering four people, including a 3-year-old girl whose body was found in the front yard of a Kansas City home.

Adrian Burks of Kansas City, Kan., is charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of 66-year-old James Warren, 21-year-old Amanda Remmers, 41-year-old Peggy Castleberry and Castleberry's 3-year-old daughter, Juanita D. Castleberry-Bess. All died from multiple gunshot wounds.

Jerome A. Gorman, Wyandotte County district attorney, said he was considering filing capital murder charges against Burks.

Kansas' death penalty statute requires the state to prove aggravating factors. "The fact that more than one person was killed in this matter would qualify for a capital murder charge," Gorman said at a news conference.

Burks was arrested Tuesday and charged with aggravated battery in the beating of another man hours before the slayings. He was being held at the Wyandotte County jail on $2 million bond. Burks could not be reached for comment, and it was unclear whether he had hired an attorney.

He did not have a lawyer with him during his first appearance in Wyandotte County District Court later Thursday. Judge Jan Way asked if he understood the charges, and Burks said he did.

Way told Burks a lawyer would be appointed for him if he did not have one. Burks, who was shackled at his wrists and ankles, did not respond. His next appearance was set for June 30.

The victims' bodies were found Monday at Warren's home. The adults' bodies were found inside, and Juanita's body was found in the yard.

Castleberry and Warren were family friends, and she had lived with him at various times, according to relatives. She and her daughter moved back in with Warren about a month ago.

Gorman said Burks knew one of the victims well and that domestic violence appeared to motivate the slayings, but he would not elaborate.

One of the victims was with Burks during the fight, which occurred hours before the bodies were found, Gorman said. The man who was beaten helped lead police to Burks.

He was arrested after a car chase that began in Kansas City, Mo., and ended in Kansas City, Kan., where he crashed his minivan into another vehicle. Burks also was charged with eluding police.

Burks has spent about 10 years in Kansas prisons on robbery and aggravated burglary convictions from about 1988.

Authorities also are reviewing a March incident in which Burks and two other men struggled with a gun, and one of the men died, Gorman said. Burks claimed self-defense in that case and has not been charged with a crime.

Burks does face charges of criminal threat and battery from an April incident in Johnson County. As part of his pretrial release in that case, he was ordered not to possess firearms or consume alcohol or drugs.

Warren's ex-wife, Arnetta Warren, 66, has said Warren let people without anywhere to live stay with him.

"He would just take in anybody who didn't have a home," she said.

Castleberry's brother, Frank Leavey, 45, said his sister and her daughter were both "full of life," and he never suspected any problems.

"There was never anything to worry about her," he said.

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