Clarence Boose murder
- Suspect in slaying booked into jail (04-19-07)
- Burglar pleads guilty to murder (02-13-07)
- Statements in murder case to be reviewed (01-12-07)
- Judge reschedules hearing in murder case (12-30-06)
- Confession at issue during murder hearing (12-12-06)
- Judge rules repeat burglar can be tried for killing Lecompton man (10-18-06)
A prosecutor said Allen Dale Smith's own statements led detectives to focus on him as a key suspect in an April 2005 homicide near Lecompton.
During opening statements Tuesday morning, Amy McGowan, a chief assistant Douglas County district attorney, said Smith kept trying to pin the shooting of 77-year-old Clarence David Boose on his cousin, Leonard Wayne "Battle Axe" Price, who has already pleaded guilty in the case.
But detectives were wary of inconsistencies in Smith's statements. Price, 46, also said that Smith, 36, shot Boose in the head when the homeowner surprised the cousins as they were trying to commit a burglary there.
"The case before you is going to be about two different stories," McGowan said.
The cousins from Topeka had embarked on several daytime burglaries in northeastern Kansas about that time. They already are serving prison sentences for an attempted murder related to a shooting during a Pottawatomie County burglary less than a week after Boose was killed.
McGowan said sheriff's detectives had trouble collecting physical evidence in the Boose case. They never found a gun that the suspects said they threw into the Kansas River. Smith eventually contacted authorities in Shawnee County and asked to talk to Douglas County investigators. He told them over several interviews that Price told him he shot and killed an older man outside Lecompton.
Investigators ran into problems when they tried to corroborate Smith's statements about where he was the day of Boose's murder. Later, Price was granted a plea agreement, and he said Smith pulled the trigger.
But Smith's attorney, Tom Bartee, told jurors his client has an alibi for the Boose killing, and he attacked the credibility of Price, a repeat burglar in he state. He said Price also tried to implicate Smith's brother, Scott, as a suspect because both brothers have testified against Price in other cases. Scott Smith was not involved, Bartee said.
"There's no doubt Leonard Price pointed the finger at Allen Smith, just like he pointed the finger at Scott Smith earlier," Bartee said.
Price has already pleaded guilty to felony murder, and he is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 20. According to his plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend that his sentence in the Douglas County case run concurrently with a 13-year sentence in the Pottawatomie County case.
Smith is charged with felony murder and aggravated burglary. Jurors don't have to find that Smith pulled the trigger. They only have to decide that Smith committed a burglary at Boose's house and that during the burglary Boose was shot and killed.
Witnesses and law enforcement officers testified Tuesday, and Price is expected to take the stand when the trial resumes at 8:30 a.m. today.