Defense attorney shows Kahler did not take prescribed medication

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 | 1:08 p.m. CDT

LYNDON, Kan. — Two agents with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation continued their presentation of items collected from Dorothy Wight’s home and James Kraig Kahler’s red Ford Explorer during the third day of testimony in Kahler’s capital murder trial.

Testimony is scheduled to continue around 1 p.m., with Sunny Reese — the woman whose relationship with Karen Kahler the defense argued drove Kraig Kahler to madness and murder. Kahler’s parents, Wayne and Patricia Kahler, were also expected to testify.


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Kahler, 48, the former director of the Columbia Water and Light department, is charged with capital murder in the Nov. 28, 2009, shootings of his wife, Karen Kahler, 44; daughters, Emily, 18, and Lauren Kahler, 16; and his wife’s grandmother, Wight, 89. He is also charged with aggravated burglary in connection with the break-in at Wight’s home that night.

Tuesday, Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent Ryan Boyer began displaying items he collected from Kahler’s SUV and Wight’s home. His testimony continued Wednesday morning as he held up more than 40 exhibits for the jury.

As he’d laid out in his opening statement, defense attorney Tom Haney showed under cross-examination of Boyer that Kahler had not taken any of the 30 clonazepam pills he was prescribed on March 26, 2009. The pills, prescribed to alleviate symptoms of seizures and panic attacks, were found in a labeled prescription bottle inside a camouflage backpack retrieved from the back of Kahler’s Explorer. 

Haney had Boyer pour the pills out onto the witness stand and count them. Then he asked Boyer why they were not investigated by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation  and pointed out that the pills and bottle were also not originally marked as one of the prosecution’s exhibits, unlike other contents of the backpack.

Haney also sought to show that the seven shell casings found in Wight’s home — six on the first floor and one in the stairwell — and other potential evidence could have been moved or kicked accidentally by paramedics and law enforcement officers. Haney asked Boyer to confirm that the scene was “chaotic,” a description of Wight’s home that’s been used multiple times by witnesses and attorneys alike.

The same items Boyer showed were next displayed in photographs projected onto a screen in the Osage County District courtroom. The pictures were taken by Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent Katie Whisman to show the items as they appeared in Kahler’s SUV when she inventoried them a few days after the shootings.

Among the items was the prescription bottle and a tie Whisman said was patterned with a picture of three young children, two girls and a boy. Defense attorney Amanda Vogelsberg directed Whisman's attention to the tie, which was found in a suitcase of Kahler's in the SUV.

Whisman further described how the gun box found in Kahler’s SUV was traced back to a rifle Kahler had purchased in Texas on Nov. 19, 1993.

The state, running behind schedule on its witness list, planned to call after the lunch break the first of the witnesses originally scheduled to testify Wednesday.

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