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Archive for Sunday, May 12, 2013

Arrest of defendant in Ottawa homicide case brings new questions

May 12, 2013

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The young man, in an orange-and-white jail uniform and flanked by sheriff’s deputies, flipped his middle finger at onlookers on his way to Franklin County District Court to face charges of capital murder and other crimes Friday afternoon. He was defiant in court, telling the judge that he was eager to see his court-appointed lawyer because, “The sooner I can see him, the sooner I can wrap this up.”

Kyle T. Flack will make his next court appearance on Monday. He's accused of killing Lana Leigh Bailey, 18 months; her mother, Kaylie K. Bailey, 21, of Olathe; and two friends of Bailey's, Andrew Adam Stout, 30, and Steven Eugene White, 31.

The charges filed against Flack, 27, began to answer some questions about the quadruple homicides in rural Ottawa. But many other questions remained: What happened at 3197 Georgia Road? How were the victims killed? How did a body believed to be that of Lana Leigh Bailey get to Osage County, where it was found Saturday evening? And why was Flack roaming those country roads free after shooting a man down in 2005 and being convicted of attempted murder?

Kyle T. Flack, 27, is transported from the Franklin County courthouse Friday after being charged with four counts of murder and one count of rape. Flack is being held on a $10 million bond.

Kyle T. Flack, 27, is transported from the Franklin County courthouse Friday after being charged with four counts of murder and one count of rape. Flack is being held on a $10 million bond.

The limits of the law

Relatives of an Ottawa man Flack nearly killed eight years ago were upset when he was paroled in 2009. They say Flack was obviously a dangerous man, with a history of mental health issues and drug problems.

Flack served four years in prison for the 2005 shooting of Ottawa resident Steven Dale Free, 47, who was found in his front yard with multiple small-caliber gunshot wounds. Flack was convicted in Franklin County of attempted second-degree murder and paroled in 2009.

Flack served four years in prison for the 2005 shooting of Ottawa resident Steven Dale Free, 47, who was found in his front yard with multiple small-caliber gunshot wounds. Flack was convicted in Franklin County of attempted second-degree murder and paroled in 2009.

Flack was convicted of attempted murder in the second degree in the shooting of Steven Dale Free, 47, who had hired Flack to work with him doing handyman jobs in 2005, but fired Flack for substandard work.

Free was shooting pool in his garage when Flack came over and shot him five times with a small-caliber pistol. Free was taken by air ambulance to a hospital, placed in a medically induced coma, and survived. But he was unable to work because of nerve damage to both arms and died in 2011, reportedly of lung cancer.

In that case, Franklin County prosecutors initially charged Flack with attempted murder in the first degree, which could have brought a sentence of more than 13 years. But prosecutors allowed Flack to plead to the lesser second-degree attempted murder charge.

Franklin County Attorney Stephen Hunting, who worked on the Free case and is leading the new case against Flack, said prosecutors downgraded the charges to what they could prove, as conflicting evidence weakened the case.

“There was evidence and information at that time that could not be strongly enough corroborated and proven at trial to secure the original conviction,” Hunting said.

A conviction on the lesser charge meant a shorter prison sentence, as dictated by sentencing guidelines created by the Legislature. The guidelines mandate prison sentencing according to a defendant's criminal history and the severity of the crime. Flack, with no significant criminal record and convicted of the lesser offense, could only receive a sentence between 55 and 61 months. He served about four and a half years.

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Flack was paroled on July 9, 2009, with standard time off for good behavior. He had been cited only once, in 2007, for violating prison rules. As demanded by the sentencing guidelines, Flack remained on post-release supervision for 36 months and was required to register with the state as a violent offender until 2024.

But essentially, he was free.

Life or death

In court on Friday, Flack was accused of first murdering White in late April, before later killing Bailey, her daughter, and Stout. The charges included two counts of capital murder, which means Flack could face the death penalty.

Flack is charged with first-degree murder in the killing of White, who prosecutors say died sometime between April 20 and April 28. He is charged with capital murder in the killings of Stout, Bailey and the child together, sometime between April 28 and May 6.

Another capital murder charge centers on the killing of Bailey, because, according to prosecutors, Flack also raped her.

Hunting said he believed a gun was used in each of the murders. In addition to the other charges, Flack was charged with one count of criminal possession of a firearm. As a convicted felon, it would have been illegal for Flack to have a gun.

In Kansas, murder can become a capital offense if combined with offenses such as rape and kidnapping, if multiple people are murdered in the same act, or if a contract killing is involved. Such crimes are beyond the scope of state sentencing guidelines, and must be punished with life in prison, without parole, or the death penalty.

County Attorney Hunting has seven days from Flack’s arraignment to decide if he wants to pursue the death penalty, and said Friday that his office is still reviewing the case to make that decision. Kansas has not executed an inmate since 1965, even after reinstating capital punishment in 1994. Flack was assigned Ron Evans, head of the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit in Topeka, as a court-appointed attorney, and he remains in Franklin County Jail on a $10 million bond.

Sheriff Jeff Richards said the investigation is ongoing, though no other suspects have been named or arrested. A body believed to be that of Lana Leigh Bailey was found Saturday night in Osage County.

“We’re still following up on investigative leads, we’re still conducting searches, and we plan to continue until we have a final resolution in this case,” Richards said.

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