LYNDON, Kan. — Testimony in the trial of former Columbia Water and Light director James Kraig Kahler begins Monday, and his 12-year-old son, Sean, is expected to be the third witness to take the stand.
Sean Kahler, who was 10 at the time of the Nov. 2009, shootings, is the only living witness to the killings. He testified during Kraig Kahler’s Dec. 21 preliminary hearing that he saw his father shoot his mother and heard several more shots as he ran out of his great-grandmother’s Burlingame home.
Should he find testifying in court too difficult, Sean Kahler will be allowed to answer questions via closed-circuit television during the trial in Osage County District Court in Kansas, as he did during his father’s preliminary hearing.
Kraig Kahler is charged with four counts of capital murder in the deaths of his wife, Karen Kahler, 44; two daughters, Emily, 18, and Lauren Kahler, 16; and Karen Kahler’s grandmother, Dorothy Wight, 89. He’s also charged with one count of aggravated burglary in connection with the break-in of Wight’s home that night.
Also scheduled to testify for the prosecution Monday are Karen Kahler’s brother, Bill Hetrick, and Columbia attorney Dan Pingelton, who was representing Karen Kahler in her divorce from Kraig Kahler. The divorce was in progress when she was killed.
Sunny Reese, the woman whose relationship with Karen Kahler the defense is expected to argue caused Kraig Kahler to have a mental breakdown, is scheduled to testify Wednesday. Also on the prosecution’s witness list for Wednesday are Kraig Kahler’s parents, Wayne and Patricia Kahler.
Defense co-counsel Tom Haney said during jury selection that two psychiatrists, one for the prosecution and one for defense, will also testify over the next two weeks.
The prosecution is expected to call 38 total witnesses, 11 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and five on Friday.