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Archive for Saturday, March 20, 1999

TEEN FACES ARSON CHARGE IN SWASTIKA CASE

March 20, 1999

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A 19-year-old Kansas University student facing an arson charge in conjunction with a swastika burned into the carpet of Oliver Hall is to stay out of the residence hall, a judge ordered Friday.

The Kansas University freshman accused of burning a swastika into the carpet of a residence hall is the son of well-respected farmers in St. Francis, his attorney said Friday.

His short hair disheveled, Aaron Hale Culwell made his first appearance Friday afternoon in Douglas County District Court with Lawrence attorney James Rumsey at his side.

When Judge Paula Martin asked Rumsey if he wanted Douglas County Assistant Dist. Atty. Marlon Williams to read the complaint against Culwell, Rumsey waived his client's formal hearing and asked for the matter to be set for a preliminary hearing.

"His folks live in St. Francis; they're farmers," Rumsey told Martin. "They're a well-respected family, very well-known in St. Francis. In fact, the (Cheyenne County) attorney contacted me this afternoon."

Culwell does not pose a risk of flight, Rumsey said.

Citing his lack of prior criminal history, ties to the community and family support, Martin released Culwell on a $5,000 personal bond.

That means the KU student must appear for all court hearings or face a $5,000 judgment against him.

Prosecutors formally charged Culwell, whom KU police arrested for arson.

Acting on an anonymous tip, KU police arrested Culwell on Thursday night.

Police believe he used tissue paper as a stencil of sorts to burn a 5-foot by 3with Lawrence attorney James Rumsey at his side.

When Judge Paula Martin asked Rumsey if he wanted Douglas County Assistant Dist. Atty. Marlon Williams to read the complaint against Culwell, Rumsey waived his client's formal hearing and asked for the matter to be set for a prell to stay away from the residence hall, where he lived, except to pick up belongings he might need.

He also is to have no contact with alleged victims and witnesses.

In addition to arson, KU police consider the incident a hate crime.

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is dgruver@ljworld.com.

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