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Archive for Sunday, June 15, 2003

D.A. files capital charges in Wichita beheading

June 15, 2003

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— Prosecutors have filed new capital murder charges and will seek the death penalty against a truck driver accused of decapitating a Wichita woman last June.

The Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office on Friday dropped a first-degree murder charge against Douglas S. Belt and filed capital murder and attempted rape charges in its place.

Asst. Dist. Atty. Marc Bennett cited newly discovered evidence for the new charges, but would not elaborate on what the evidence was.

Belt has pleaded innocent to the murder of housekeeper Lucille Gallegos at a west Wichita apartment complex. Gallegos, 43, was found dead in a vacant, partially-burned apartment on June 25, 2002.

The attempted rape charge, combined with the murder charge, allows prosecutors to seek the death penalty under Kansas law.

Topeka lawyer Ron Evans, who represented Cornelius Oliver and Jonathan Carr in two previous Wichita capital murder trials, said he planned to meet with Belt for the first time Monday. Oliver was sentenced to life in prison and Carr received the death penalty.

Last Wednesday, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation apologized for an error which it said delayed identifying Belt as a suspect in an October 1991 rape in McPherson County. The KBI said a blood sample from Belt was mislabeled.

Belt, in Sedgwick County Jail on $2.5 million bond, faces seven counts of rape from four Kansas counties and three counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault in Madison County, Ill.

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