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Archive for Thursday, February 15, 2001

Murder trial venue changed

Triple-slaying case to be tried in Emporia

February 15, 2001

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— The trial of a man accused of killing his father and two other people last year is being moved to Emporia.

Michael A. Bethel, 23, of Girard, is charged with one count of capital murder and two of first-degree murder, as well as with aggravated assault on a law officer.

He's accused in the shootings last February of his father, John A. Bethel, 49; the father's girlfriend, Sherrill Davis, 50; and Waneta Boatright, 50, a home health care nurse from Arma.

Crawford County District Judge Don Nolan had granted the request from defense lawyers to move the trial. He recommended to the Kansas Supreme Court that it be tried at Erie in Neosho County.

But the defense objected, asking that the trial be moved at least 60 miles away to a non-neighboring county with different demographics.

Monday, Justice Donald Allegrucci ordered that the trial be held in Lyon County District Court at Emporia, where it is scheduled to begin March 26.

Bethel has been in the Crawford County Jail at Girard without bond since his arrest. The bodies of the three victims were found last Feb. 7 in the home where the defendant lived with his father, Davis and his 88-year-old grandmother.

Boatright, who worked for Crawford County Hospital District No. 1, went to the home to see the grandmother, Alice Vestal, a stroke victim. Police said she discovered that the elder Bethel and Davis had been shot and was shot herself while making a 911 call.

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