Attorney killed by stray bullets in K.C.

Deanna Lieber, a mother of two and devoted attorney, died Friday night when she was hit by random gunfire while driving home from the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City.

Lieber was on U.S. 71, about two miles away from the outdoor theater, when she was struck by a stray round of bullets, Kansas City police said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

In the passenger seat of Lieber’s gold Dodge Durango was her 13-year-old daughter. Her mother-in-law was in the back seat.

The 45-year-old Lawrence woman was the Kansas Department of Education’s general counsel and had spent years as a law clerk for Kansas Supreme Court justices.

Lieber also had a college-age son.

“She was a devoted mom and just a really super sweet lady,” Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said. “For someone who was as sweet as her to get killed in a situation like this, it just doesn’t make any sense.”

For the past several years, Lieber had worked with the Kansas Department of Education, where “any and every legal aspect of the agency went through her,” Kansas Education Commissioner Alexa Posny said.

Along with making sure people in the department were “treated well and legally,” Lieber was committed to protecting the rights of students with disabilities and their parents.

“This just creates a huge chasm in our agency,” Posny said.

Before working at the department of education, Lieber was a law clerk with Kansas Supreme Court Justice Robert Gernon. Earlier in her career, she practiced family law at the Lawrence firm of Stevens and Brands.

“She was like Sherlock Holmes. She was very good at research. Very detail-orientated,” said Sherri Loveland, a former co-worker at Stevens and Brands.

Lieber also served on the board of the Achievement Place for Girls, a five-bedroom home in Lawrence for teenage girls that closed in 2004. Before becoming a lawyer, Lieber was an engineer.

“She was a lawyer who had a real commitment to public service,” said Mary Klayder, who came to know Lieber well when their sons played soccer together.

Along with being active in her church, Lieber was skilled at home crafts and improvement projects. With her husband, she built their home near Clinton Lake from the ground up — laying tiles and designing the wallpaper, Loveland said.

Posny called Lieber irreplaceable.

“A life was just wiped out, a life so important to so many people,” Posny said.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.