Oskaloosa Two armed men didn't expect Clarence Rinke to fight back when they confronted him the night of Oct. 14, 1999, inside his rural Jefferson County home.
But Rinke did Â and it cost him his life.
"He sees me and came at me, and I whacked him on the head with the shotgun," Collin E. Cady, 32, McLouth, testified Monday in Jefferson County District Court.
But Rinke got up off the floor and tried to take the shotgun.
"We had a tug of war," Cady told Magistrate Judge Dennis Reiling. "The shotgun went off."
Cady testified during a preliminary hearing for Noah J. Gleason, 42, rural Lawrence, who along with Cady and Charolette M. Bennett, 29, also of Lawrence, are charged in connection with Rinke's death.
Bennett also testified against Gleason. She and Cady said Gleason planned the burglary at Rinke's home and lined them up as accomplices. Gleason wanted to steal money and marijuana from Rinke, they said.
"Mr. Rinke was his (Gleason's) drug dealer," Cady said.
Rinke kept a large vault that contained drugs and cash, KBI senior agent Timothy A. Dennis testified. Dennis, who was sent to assist sheriff's officers, said more than $570,000 in cash was stashed in the vault along with 75 pounds of marijuana.
Bennett said Cady offered her $1,000 to assist in the botched robbery.
Following the hearing, Reiling ruled there is enough evidence to try Gleason on charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit burglary.
Gleason will be arraigned at 9:30 a.m. May 9. He is scheduled to enter a plea then, and a trial date will probably be set.
Cady, who also is charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit burglary, waived his right to a preliminary hearing. His hearing was to be held simultaneously with Gleason's.
Jefferson County Sheriff's officers and Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents investigated Rinke's murder more than two years before they arrested the three suspects earlier this month.
Two weeks ago Bennett waived her right to a preliminary hearing and her attorney, Dennis Hawver, Ozawkie, said plea negotiations are taking place with Asst. Jefferson County Atty. Vic Braden. Bennett is charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery.
Braden declined to comment when asked if plea negotiations were taking place with Cady's attorney, J.D. Farris. The Atchison attorney couldn't be reached for comment Monday afternoon.
The case also took a new twist Monday. An additional charge alleging intimidation of a witness was filed against Gleason. A court document states that on April 3, the day after the three suspects were arrested, Gleason threatened Bennett, warning her not to testify against him.
Braden said threatening letters directed at Cady and Bennett were received Friday at the county jail. The letters were opened by jailers because they did not have return addresses on them.
Sheriff Roy Dunnaway said incoming letters to inmates are opened by staff if they appear suspicious. Not having a return address is one of the criteria for suspicion, Dunnaway said.
No one has been charged in connection with those letters.
During his testimony, Cady said he and Gleason scouted Rinke's property several times before they tried to rob him. The night of the killing they met Bennett at Johnny's Tavern in Lawrence before driving to the Rinke farm near 21st and Republic streets.
Cady said he and Gleason stopped in a field on property Gleason owned about two miles south of Rinke's farm. Cady and Gleason put on different shoes, jump suits and masks. Cady armed himself with the shotgun he said Gleason provided. Gleason, Cady said, carried a pistol.
Suspect lures Rinke outside
They then drove to an electronic gate at the entrance to Rinke's farm. Cady said he and Gleason went onto the property through the woods and took up positions near the house, and he then called Bennett on his cell phone.
Bennett said she contacted Rinke from the gate over an intercom that connected to his house, three-quarters of a mile away. Bennett said she asked Rinke for help, telling him that she was lost and had gotten her car stuck trying to turn around at Rinke's gate.
Rinke, she said, promised to drive down with a tractor and pull her out. After reporting to Cady by cell phone, Bennett said she then drove to a nearby location to wait. She did not wait for Rinke to arrive at his gate.
When Rinke returned to his house, Cady said he was waiting for him in a mudroom off Rinke's garage. It was in the doorway to the mudroom that the confrontation and struggle took place, Cady said.
"I was supposed to get him down on the ground and tell him to give us the combination to the safe," Cady said.
After the shooting, Cady said he and Gleason took off running in separate directions from the Rinke house. Eventually they met at Gleason's house.
Cady said he buried the shotgun somewhere in the woods. The gun was recovered by officers earlier this month.
Sheriff's officers said Rinke called 911 to report he'd been shot. By the time officers made it to his house by going around the gate on foot, he was dead.
Gleason and Cady remain in jail on $500,000 bond. Bennett is being held on $250,000 bond.