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Archive for Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New trial sought in 2002 murder at pool

January 28, 2009

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— A former swimming pool maintenance worker serving life in prison for killing a suburban Kansas City woman in 2002 asked the state’s highest court Tuesday to overturn his conviction and order a new trial.

Benjamin Appleby, 33, was convicted of capital murder and attempted rape in the attack on 19-year-old Ali Kemp at pool in Leawood, where she was working after finishing her freshman year at Kansas State University. Her body was found by her father in the pool’s pump house after he went there to look for her.

In arguments before the Kansas Supreme Court on Tuesday, Appleby’s attorney, Debra Wilson, cited several reasons that Appleby’s conviction should be overturned. Among them was that Appleby’s request for a lawyer when he was arrested in Connecticut was ignored.

The court gave no indication when it will rule. The earliest scheduled date for opinions from cases heard this week is March 27.

Leawood investigators had tracked Appleby to Bantam, Conn., in November 2004, based on an anonymous tip. He was arrested on unrelated charges and read his Miranda rights, which includes the right to have an attorney present during questioning. He asked the Connecticut officers whether he could contact an attorney about his arrest and was told he would have an opportunity before being questioned.

Then, Connecticut police asked if he wanted to talk to two Leawood detectives who were there and he agreed.

“This confusing situation was set up by law enforcement. He was being kept in the dark about the real purpose for his arrest,” Wilson said.

However, Assistant Johnson County District Attorney Steven Obermeier said Appleby agreed to talk to the Leawood detectives only after they read him his rights again. During questioning, Appleby admitted he had beaten and strangled Kemp and provided details about the crime, according to Obermeier.

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