Archive for Thursday, August 2, 2007

Kline seeks death penalty in abduction, slaying of Kelsey Smith

August 2, 2007

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— Prosecutors said Wednesday they plan to seek the death penalty for the man accused of kidnapping an 18-year-old woman from a store parking lot, then raping and strangling her.

Edwin R. Hall, 26, of Olathe, was indicted by a grand jury late Tuesday on charges of capital murder, kidnapping, rape and aggravated sodomy in the death of Kelsey Smith, of Overland Park.

Hall's lawyer, Paul Cramm, entered not guilty pleas to all counts for Hall.

The grand jury indictment, a first in a Johnson County murder trial in about 30 years, replaced the same charges brought by District Attorney Phill Kline's office last month.

In seeking capital punishment, Kline said he would allege two aggravating circumstances in Smith's death: that Hall committed the murder to avoid prosecution and that the murder was "particularly heinous." Kline would not elaborate on those circumstances.

Hall is accused of abducting Smith from a Target store parking lot June 2. Grainy surveillance video from the store appeared to show Smith being confronted and pushed into her car.

Smith's body was found June 6 in a Missouri park about 20 miles from the suburban Kansas City Target store where she was last seen. Hall was interviewed and arrested the same day, after he saw himself on television in store surveillance video and contacted a lawyer, who then called police.

Smith's father, Greg Smith, would not comment on the death penalty decision after the arraignment. But he said he and his wife have been pleased with the court proceedings so far.

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