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Archive for Saturday, February 23, 2002

Local briefs

February 23, 2002

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Courts: Suspect found innocent of Franklin County murder

Ottawa  After deliberating about six hours over two days, a Franklin County jury Friday found an Overbrook man innocent of second-degree murder.

John Powell, 45, was freed from Franklin County Jail where he had been held on $500,000 bond in last summer's death of Barney Riley, 39, Lawrence.

Powell was accused of fatally beating Riley with a baseball bat at a home near Centropolis. Riley's body was found by children June 11, 2001.

Powell said he put a drunken and passed-out Riley in the back of a truck to take him to Lawrence but ended up unloading him by a tree in a field because he needed to get to work. Riley was alive at the time, Powell said.

"I think the state just didn't have enough evidence to convict him," said Powell's attorney, Robert Kuchar, Olathe. "I'm glad to see that justice still works."

Franklin County prosecutor John Dowell declined to comment.

Crime: Police identifying victims of restroom videotaping

Ottawa  Police have identified four more women allegedly videotaped without their knowledge in the restroom of a downtown bar and restaurant.

Investigators Friday also were trying to contact three more women who might have been unknowingly videotaped, Ottawa Police Capt. Ron Puterbaugh said.

Darrin A. Votaw, 31, Lawrence, already faces nine charges of eavesdropping. Police say he videotaped women in G. Willikers Bar and Deli, 306 S. Main St., where he was a part owner. Votaw is free on $5,000 bond.

Tuesday evening police searched G. Willikers and arrested Votaw. According to police reports, several items were seized at the bar, including ceiling tiles, color and digital photographs, a nude photograph, a combination television/VCR, and computer equipment. Police also twice searched Votaw's Lawrence residence, Puterbaugh said. One videotape has been confiscated, he said.

No other arrests are expected, he said.

Votaw has applied for a court-appointed attorney to represent him. No trial date has been set.

Kansas University: Former South African leader to speak at student lecture

Former South African president F.W. de Klerk will visit Lawrence in April.

De Klerk, who served from 1989 to 1994 and is widely recognized for helping dismantle apartheid, will speak April 20 at the Lied Center as part of Kansas University's Student Lecture Series. The free event is open to the public.

Matt Dwyer, the lecture series' chairman, said times for de Klerk's events have yet to be determined, but a lecture, reception and press conference will be on his agenda.

Past lecturers include former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader and Bishop Desmond Tutu.

Dwyer said it will cost $25,000 to bring de Klerk to Lawrence. The series is funded through unclaimed student basketball tickets that are resold to the general public.

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