Olathe A convicted burglar who shared a cell with John Henry Horton will be allowed to testify in Horton's preliminary hearing next month on charges Horton killed a Prairie Village girl in 1974.
Johnson County District Judge James Franklin Davis ruled Thursday that jurors should decide whether they believe Danny Lee Barnhouse if the case goes to trial a second time.
Horton's defense attorney had argued that Barnhouse's testimony should be suppressed because he has a history of lying and of mental problems.
A jury convicted Horton in 2004 of killing 13-year-old Lizabeth Wilson, who disappeared July 7, 1974, while walking home from the Prairie Village swimming pool. The Kansas Supreme Court overturned the conviction in February, leading Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline to file a new murder charge in March.
Horton's preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 6.
Authorities, who had suspected the former school janitor was involved in Lizabeth's death, didn't charge Horton until 2003 after a witness came forward and testified that Horton, who is now 60, had sexually assaulted her earlier in the summer of 1974 after drugging her with chloroform.
Prosecutors used that testimony in Horton's first trial to back up their case to jurors that Horton had similarly drugged Wilson in order to molest her and accidentally killed her in the process.
The Supreme Court, however, ruled that the witness' testimony shouldn't have been allowed because her experience was significantly different from what happened to Wilson. Without that evidence, the court said, prosecutors wouldn't have been able to charge Horton.
On Thursday, Kline told the judge that Barnhouse would testify that Horton told him how he liked to watch the young girls around Shawnee Mission East, where he worked as a janitor. Barnhouse also says Horton told him about drugging Wilson and how she fought him after regaining consciousness.
Kline said the conversation occurred while the two men were in the same cell block at Norton State Correctional Facility. Barnhouse is in prison for aggravated assault, aggravated burglary and residential burglary.
Public Defender Michael McCulloch argued that prosecutors are using Barnhouse's testimony to lay a foundation for eventually reintroducing the now-barred testimony from Horton's other alleged victim.