Texas judge delays trial of convicted Missouri killer

Monday, August 31, 2009 | 2:27 p.m. CDT; updated 3:05 p.m. CDT, Monday, August 31, 2009

LUBBOCK, Texas — A judge on Monday delayed the trial of a Missouri man charged with murdering a pregnant woman, her husband and son at a Texas Panhandle farmhouse in 2005, pending the arrival of DNA test results.

Attorneys for Levi King, 26, had asked that the trial be delayed, saying they couldn't proceed without the test results. It's unclear what the DNA tests involved.

Prosecutor Lynn Switzer and one of King's defense attorneys, Joe Mar Wilson, declined to comment on the ruling, citing a gag order put in place by State District Judge Steven Emmert.

Emmert said after the hearing that he, too, could not elaborate on the details of the case. He did not set a date to begin the trial.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for King in the deaths of 35-year-old Michell Conrad, her 31-year-old husband Brian Conrad and her son on Sept. 30, 2005. If convicted and sentenced to death, the Texas punishment would take precedence under an agreement with Missouri.

King pleaded guilty last year in the shooting deaths of Orlie McCool, 70, and his 47-year-old daughter-in-law, Dawn McCool. Their bodies were found by a relative in a rural Pineville home on Sept. 30, 2005 — the same day authorities in the Texas Panhandle discovered the bodies in the Conrads' home.

Missouri authorities said King drove Orlie McCool's pickup truck from Missouri to the Conrads' home in Texas.

King was caught the same night trying to re-enter the United States at the Mexican border in El Paso, Texas.

Shortly after investigators brought the truck back to Missouri from El Paso, a name tag with Brian Conrad's name was found in the vehicle.

Investigators said ballistics tests linked one of four guns found in the truck to the Texas killings.

Nanci Gonder, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office in Missouri, said last week that if King is acquitted in Texas he will be returned to Missouri to serve his two consecutive life sentences, both without parole.


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