Archive for Thursday, April 20, 2006

Man convicted in 2 Great Bend deaths

April 20, 2006

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— A Lyons man was convicted Wednesday of capital murder for helping to kill a Great Bend couple because he feared one of the victims might tell police about a previous crime.

Sidney Gleason faces the death penalty in the shooting deaths of Miki Martinez, 19, and her boyfriend, Darren Wornkey, 24, on Feb. 21, 2004. Gleason was convicted of capital murder, first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery and criminal possession of a firearm.

The sentencing phase was scheduled to begin today.

Prosecutors said Gleason and his cousin, Damian Thompson, killed Martinez because they thought she might tell police about the stabbing and robbery of a 76-year-old man. Wornkey was with Martinez when the men went to her house to confront her.

Thompson, 25, previously pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in Martinez's death and is serving a life sentence. A capital murder charge against him was dropped after he agreed to testify against Gleason.

But last week, Thompson refused to testify against Gleason. Barton County District Judge Hannelore Kitts then ruled that Thompson's testimony during a preliminary hearing - during which Thompson implicated Gleason in the murders - could be read into the trial record.

Atty. Gen. Phill Kline, who was in Great Bend on Wednesday to talk to the victims' families, said he could not comment on whether he would now file a capital murder charge against Thompson. He said that decision would depend partly on what the victims' families want him to do.

Kline said he became close to the victims' families because he spent time with them while authorities looked for Martinez's body. Thompson eventually led authorities to her body.

Gleason had previously pleaded no contest to attempted involuntary manslaughter in the shooting of his mother's ex-boyfriend. He also was acquitted in February 2000 of premeditated first-degree murder in the shooting death of one man and the wounding of another in Topeka in June 1999.

Gleason was released on parole a month before the Wornkey-Martinez homicides.

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