LYNDON, Kan. — In testimony Tuesday, 11-year-old Sean Kahler told an Osage County, Kan., judge that he was in the kitchen with his mother, Karen, when she was shot last November.
They were at his great-grandmother’s Burlingame, Kan., home over Thanksgiving vacation, washing some old coins he had found, he said via closed-circuit television in the courtroom.
“My dad came through the door and shot my mom,” the boy said. He ducked and heard his mom collapse.
“I got a glimpse," he said. "I think she was holding her leg.”
At that point, he began to run, he told Magistrate Judge Jon Stephen Jones.
As he left, he testified, he heard several more shots.
Sean Kahler was the third witness to speak during a preliminary hearing where the state's witnesses presented evidence against his father, Kraig Kahler. The father is charged with the murders of his wife; his teenage daughters, Emily and Lauren; and his wife's grandmother, Dorothy Wight.
Karen Kahler and her children lived in Columbia but were visiting Wight when they were killed on Nov. 28, 2009.
The boy escaped without injury, fleeing to a neighbor's house to find a phone and call for help.
“I went to the first house; they didn’t answer. I went to the next house, knocked on the door; they came and helped me,” he said.
After the boy's testimony, Osage County Deputy Nathan Purling described the situation after he arrived at the house at 6:17 p.m.
Purling said he heard three dispatches before his arrival: a call from neighbor, Michelle Davidson, about a suspicious vehicle; a call from Wight; and a call from neighbors reporting the shooting.
As he approached the screen door, he said he saw Wight sitting in a recliner with blood on her left side and waist.
He then walked through the dining room to the kitchen. On the floor were two .223 shell casings — and Karen Kahler, her skin pale blue.
Upstairs, he found one girl in an upstairs bedroom. Purling described how she lay on the floor, shirt open, covered in blood.
“She said she had been shot twice,” the officer testified.
He found the other girl in a downstairs room.
“I knelt down to check to see if she was alive,” Purling said. "She was not."
Purling's testimony came during a full day of witness accounts.
Earlier Tuesday morning, Chief Judge Phillip Fromme denied an appeal by Kahler's attorney to waive the preliminary hearing.
Kahler did not want his 11-year-old son exposed to the “stress and emotional trauma” of testifying, according to his lawyer.
With probable cause confirmed, Kahler will be arraigned at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 7.
If convicted, he could be sentenced to death.
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