Archive for Sunday, December 7, 2003

Suspect in five killings deemed fit to stand trial

December 7, 2003


— A man accused of killing five people including a pregnant woman last year is competent to be tried, but must continue taking an anti-anxiety drug and will be forced to do so if he refuses, a judge ruled Thursday.

Darrell L. Stallings, 33, of Kansas City, Kan., is one of two men charged in the case. He and Errik A. Harris, 27, are charged with five counts of capital murder and one count each of attempted first-degree murder, unlawful discharge of a firearm and unlawful possession of a firearm.

They are accused of killing Trina Jennings, 26, Melvin Montague, 34, Destiny Wiles, 23, Samantha Sigler, 24, and Tameika Jackson, 24, all of Kansas City, Kan., on the morning of June 10, 2002. Jennings was seven months pregnant.

The ruling that Stallings is competent came from Wyandotte County District Judge Thomas L. Boeding. Last month he had found the defendant incompetent because of anxiety and paranoia, ordering forcible medication in an effort to make him able to be tried.

The judge said he would have a ruling Monday on the request of Stallings' attorneys, Alice Craig-White and Ron Evans of the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Council, to withdraw from the case.

The attorneys said they had irreconcilable differences with Stallings and that he refuses to communicate with them. They also argued that they could not prepare for trial.

Craig-White told Boeding that Evans and Stallings never had a good relationship, but at least communicated with each other. However, that situation deteriorated over time, she said.

She also said her own relationship with Stallings deteriorated after the attorneys sought to have him declared incompetent.

Assistant Dist. Atty. Sheryl Lidtke opposed the motion to withdraw. She said it was a delaying tactic and that the defense attorneys had enough time to prepare their case.

"I worry about the precedent it will set," Lidtke said. "Every defendant will stop talking to their lawyers if they know Judge Boeding will give them a new attorney."

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