Son describes scene of slayings in Kahler's preliminary hearing

Tuesday, December 21, 2010 | 8:08 p.m. CST; updated 11:31 p.m. CST, Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Kraig Kahler listens during testimony Tuesday in Lyndon, Kan.

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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Elaine Janes December 22, 2010 | 5:30 a.m.

"'My dad came through the door and shot my mom,' the boy said."
I understand the concept of innocent until proven guilty, but the son saw the shooting. This monster is not innocent, he has already been proven guilty. Why does he get the benefit of a trial? Why do money, time, and energy have to be spent on a trial for a horrible human being? And then, when he is found guilty, why will he get innumerable retrials for years, as tends to happen? "Kahler did not want his 11-year-old son exposed to the 'stress and emotional trauma' of testifying, according to his lawyer." Right, sure he didn't.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking December 22, 2010 | 7:56 a.m.

Elaine Janes wrote:

"This monster is not innocent, he has already been proven guilty."

Well, no. Although my opinion is that it is quite likely Kahler did it, nothing has been "proven". Eyewitness testimony can be unreliable even under the best of circumstances (look at the Ryan Ferguson case for some examples).

We are talking about the witness of a 10 year old boy. How much has he been coached? How well does he understand the concept of "Truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth"? Has he been exposed to elements of the police establishment that may have guided his memories to some extent?

All that has been established is probable cause, and now the case may proceed. "Innocent until proven guilty" means simply that - until the final verdict is rendered, he isn't guilty (and even that's not perfect, as the many recent cases of long term prisoners being released because they were wrongly convicted).

Attitudes like yours may well contribute to the problem of false conviction. Someone accused of a crime is already at a tremendous disadvantage. Bringing emotion and prejudgement into the situation may make it hard to find truly impartial jurors, making a truly fair trial that much more difficult.


(Report Comment)
Robin Nuttall December 22, 2010 | 9:26 a.m.

@Mark are you seriously trying to imply that Sean Kahler is incapable of recognizing his own *Father*? I think you have an agenda that has nothing to do with this case, and it's tacky as hell to air it here.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley December 22, 2010 | 9:45 a.m.

Robin, Mark has no agenda; he is 100% correct. What is "tacky" Robin is you encouraging everyone here that Mr. Kahler is guilty before he has even had his day in court. What is worse than "tacky" is you jumping to conclusions without having any evidence or facts to support your beliefs.....

One thing that Mark did not mention is how stress the young man would be under when this incident occurred, how scared and excited he would have been. This often leads to "false perceptions".

Nobody is saying that Mr. Kahler did not commit these crimes. I think what Mark (and I) are saying is that in order to give Mr. Kahler a fair trial, the Jury has to avail itself to all of the possibilities and not have any preconceived notions. It is these "preconceived notions" that create an unfair trial for the defendant, result in false convictions, and often causes the real perpetrator to walk the streets freely while an innocent person has to fight to get out on appeal.

I understand Mark's point, completely!

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Clara Allen December 22, 2010 | 11:01 a.m.

Mark is simply stating that Kraig Kahler has not yet been found guilty in a court of law. Is it offensive that he has not offered up a guilty plea? Certainly some find it so, but Kahler has the right to a fair and speedy trial. One would think, thoough, that his atty would tell hm to shave.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking December 22, 2010 | 11:06 a.m.

@Robin, I have no agenda here other than to point out that Elaine Janes is appointing herself judge, jury, and executioner even before the trial has started.

She actually wrote "Why do money, time, and energy have to be spent on a trial for a horrible human being?" She's saying that the accused doesn't have the right to a trial? This is justice? This is America?

When the death sentence is carried out, without due process, by emotional, prejudgemental people, they call it "lynching". James T. Scott comes to mind here...


(Report Comment)
Andrew Hansen December 22, 2010 | 12:53 p.m.

"I understand the concept of innocent until proven guilty, but the son saw the shooting. This monster is not innocent, he has already been proven guilty."
The only thing that was been proven is that you do not understand the concept of innocent until proven guilty.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley December 22, 2010 | 1:05 p.m.

Andrew Hanson, a big "NOW That Was Funny" to you sir! LMAO!

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley December 22, 2010 | 1:07 p.m.

Please excuse the misspelling, Mr. Hansen. H-A-N-S-E-N not "Hanson". Very sorry about that.

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 22, 2010 | 2:13 p.m.

While I certainly believe Kahler committed the murders, we have to let the court system perform its work. For those who think courts are infallible and that eyewitness detection is bullet-proof, you would do well to check out the Innocence Project and read about the scores of people who have been freed after years, sometimes decades, in jail because of prosecutorial misconduct or mistaken witnesses identifying someone the police had nabbed.

(Report Comment)
Ellen Debarr December 22, 2010 | 2:35 p.m.

Due process and all.. However Lauren and Dorothy both said Kraig did it with their last words. Guilt isn't even on the table, Sanity plea? Death or life, that's really all that is on the table. Justice is slow....and often expensive. : (

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley December 22, 2010 | 3:00 p.m.

Well Ellen, you skimmed over Due prcess like it was just an insignificant, procedural step on the way to "Old Sparky" for Mr. Kahler.....

Let's say that Mr. Kahler is a complete "fruitcake", and the court finds him to be insane. Then it is still "Not Guilty" by reason of insanity. So, even if you want to say that the issue is whether or not he was insane, guilt or innocence is STILL on the table in this scenario....

I think you have jumped way past a Jury or a Judge saying the words "Guilty" or "Not Guilty" all of the way to whether or not the state should kill Mr. Kahler...

Let's first hear his defense, hear what evidence is available to us, give him a fair trial, and then string him up! Right????????? LOL.

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Cathy Chenoweth December 22, 2010 | 3:41 p.m.

Punctuating anything one writes with "LOL" automatically disqualifies it from the category of intelligent commentary.

(Report Comment)
Walter Lane December 22, 2010 | 3:54 p.m.

Well Cathy, how about you sit down and have a conversation with Rick before you are so quick to dismiss him. You will find out how intelligent he actually is. You know what they say about people that assume.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley December 22, 2010 | 3:54 p.m.

Yes, I must have failed to read that rule in my Grammar Handbook. That must be because I don't have a Ph.D. in journalism........

Everyone, dump my posts to the "dummy bin", Cathy says so.....

Rick Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley December 22, 2010 | 4:11 p.m.

Thank you Walter. That was a very kind thing to say. I appreciate you speaking up for me.

I am controversial, and at this time of the year I tend to post on the forums a lot; chalk it up to boredom. I am a very "thick skinned" person, so what others say about me does not bother me. Some of the insults I get are actually very funny and I laugh at them, myself. No matter what a person says or posts to me, I'll never complain about it to a moderator. That's just not my style.

Despite how "thick skinned" I am, every now and then it is nice to hear someone say a kind word for me.

Merry Christmas to you and yours, Walter.

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Monica Eames December 22, 2010 | 4:41 p.m.

Ricky -- you and Walter need to get a room. LOL! LOL! LOL! LOL!

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley December 22, 2010 | 4:49 p.m.

Hmmm? I have been looking around on here for compliments about you, from someone other than yourself Monica. And I am coming up short.....

Do you want a compliment, Monica? What's wrong, you haven't had your daily hug today?

Okay, I'll give you a compliment, Monica. That was really funny, and something that has never been said before when one person says something nice about another and the other person says thank you. Nice, witty, and original..

Feel better now?


Ohh, and Merry Christmas.

Now, if you'll excuse me I am going to go "jam out" to some Partridge Family! LOL.

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 22, 2010 | 5:17 p.m.

Don't worry Rick,
Cathy says her comment was unintelligent.

(Report Comment)
Monica Eames December 22, 2010 | 5:24 p.m.

OMG, I feel so much better now. xoxoxoxo

Oops, almost forgot ... LOL LOL LOL LOL

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley December 22, 2010 | 5:26 p.m.

Well, she didn't punctuate with "LOL", Paul. So, I think she still qualifies as the "English Teacher" of this little motley crew! LOL!

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Terry Ward December 29, 2010 | 9:49 a.m.

Words of wisdom from Comrade Robin Nuttall

"Heh. As you know, part of the problem is that there are too few hunters, > Naah…there’s more than enough hunters. There’s just too many commie-pinko bunnie-hugging AR whackadoos. And one day I hope they all drown in goose s--t and deer turds.

I’ll defer to you on this one, I thought that Missouri Conservationist had said overall hunter numbers were down, but I don’t hunt myself (though I strongly support it!) so I wouldn’t know.
At least here in Missouri the AR whackos can’t follow hunters around, and we beat them in court when they tried to get otter trapping outlawed (note for those not from this state, MO introduced Otters back into the state several years ago, and their reintroduction has been wildly successful–so much so that they need to be thinned out because they’re hurting fish populations in some areas. Missouri instituted a trapping season, and promptly got sued by AR whackos. The whackos lost"

Puppy-Mill Huggers HATE ANIMALS!
Support Proposition B
Debark the animal abusers!

(Report Comment)
Terry Ward December 29, 2010 | 9:51 a.m.


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