Copyright 2000 The Topeka Capital-Journal  
TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL

February 11, 2000, Friday

LENGTH: 790 words

HEADLINE: Lead juror cites lack of evidence

BYLINE: Steve Fry Capital-Journal

BODY: By STEVE FRY

The Capital-Journal



L

By STEVE FRY

The Capital-Journal



LYNDON --- After more than 20 hours of deliberations over three days, an Osage County jury acquitted Thomas A. Berberich, 46, late Thursday afternoon in the slaying of John F. "Jack" Hanrahan, 12, who disappeared from Topeka streets in 1979.

Several women among the Hanrahan family gasped, some cried quietly, and the faces of Jack's parents, John and Carol Hanrahan, were blank when District Judge James Smith read the verdict at 4:15 p.m. acquitting Berberich of premeditated first-degree murder.

"We the jury find the defendant not guilty," Smith said, then polled jurors individually to verify the verdict. All agreed with the verdict.

Berberich sat calmly in his chair with his hands in his lap but soon stood to walk to his family, crying on the shoulder of one man, then on the shoulder of a sister. Meanwhile, sheriff's deputies hovered between the two families.

Defense attorney William Rork was talking to a reporter in the courtroom when Berberich threw his arms around Rork. "Thanks, man," Berberich said before leaving the courtroom. Berberich declined to make any remarks.

Members of the Hanrahan family declined to be interviewed.

At 4:50 p.m., Berberich was released from the Osage County Jail. From there, Berberich was driving to a Topeka hospital, where his father, Thomas C. Berberich, was admitted earlier this week with a stroke, Rork said.

Teri Graham, the presiding juror, said that in order to convict Berberich, jurors wanted evidence of a direct connection between him and the homicide victim, and that was never presented. Several witnesses had testified Berberich and Jack had attended the same wedding dance in early 1979.

If the jury had known about Berberich's conviction in a 1989 Shawnee County case for sexually assaulting a child, it "could have" made a difference, Graham said, but he declined to elaborate.

After the verdict, Graham learned about Berberich's 1989 conviction, which Smith had prohibited prosecutors  from mentioning during the trial. Jurors weren't told that Berberich went to see Dr. R. Don Strong, a mental health counselor, in 1989 after he was convicted of the sexual assault. When Berberich testified on Monday, he mentioned he had fallen asleep several times during his "trial."

"We felt all along that we didn't have the whole reasons," Graham said.

Jurors had problems with the testimony of three prosecution witnesses, Graham said.

Jurors questioned the credibility of Strong, he said.

"There were a lot of inconsistencies. A lot of things didn't mesh," Graham said.

Strong testified that in January 1989, Berberich blurted out a confession to killing and sexually mutilating Jack.

Graham said the jury's reaction to the testimony of Lewis William Holden, who said Berberich confessed to killing the Hanrahan boy while they were inmates in the Osage County Jail, "wasn't positive."

Jurors looked at the testimony of Vickie Hanrahan Jacques but didn't think there was enough evidence to counter the negatives, Graham said.

Jacques testified that in 1989, Dorothy Strong Klatt, Strong's then-wife, told her Berberich had confessed to Dr. Strong that he killed Jack. Klatt, however, testified she doubted Berberich made the confession.

Graham said other possible suspects suggested by Rork weren't a factor in their deliberations. Graham declined to disclose what the vote tallies by jurors were when they were deadlocked on Wednesday. He said a read back of about two hours of testimony on Thursday by Strong and Klatt didn't help, but jurors wanted to make sure what Strong had testified to, and one juror wanted to rehear the Klatt testimony.

Jurors looked at all the evidence, examining it from different angles, and finally, there was a unanimous vote to acquit, Graham said.

"Each juror voted his own conscience," Graham said. "It was physically and emotionally draining."

Rork questioned the evidence.

"Besides innuendo and inference that he was a bad person, there is no proof," Rork said.

Law enforcement focused on Berberich's past and got fixated on Strong and a tooth found in the boy, Rork said.

"I feel sad for the Hanrahan family because they were given false hope by this prosecutor," Rork said, referring to Shawnee County District Attorney Joan Hamilton, who prosecuted the case for Osage County. Rork said Berberich, who doesn't plan to live in Topeka, doesn't hold any "grudges" or "revenge."

Hamilton said jurors wanted a link between the Hanrahan boy and Berberich, something prosecutors couldn't provide.

"It's frustrating and very sad for the (Hanrahan) family," she said. "I don't have any reason to believe it's anyone else."

Berberich





LOAD-DATE: February 11, 2000

 

Copyright 2000 The Topeka Capital-Journal  
TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL

February 10, 2000, Thursday

LENGTH: 692 words

HEADLINE: Berberich jury seems deadlocked

BYLINE: Steve Fry Capital-Journal

BODY: Judge orders jurors to return to courtroom today.

   

By STEVE FRY

The Capital-Journal



LYNDON --- A jury impaneled to decide the guilt or innocence of a man charged with the 1979 slaying of John F. "Jack" Hanrahan opted for the choice a judge didn't give them.

Deadlock.

Despite the jury's message that it couldn't reach a verdict Wednesday, Osage County District Judge James Smith instructed the jury to return to the courthouse this morning.

On Tuesday, Smith told jurors they had the choice of either acquitting Topekan Thomas A. Berberich or convicting him of premeditated first-degree murder, second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter. Berberich, 46, is charged with premeditated first-degree murder in the slaying of 12-year-old Jack Hanrahan, who vanished from Topeka streets on May 20, 1979.

The boy's nude body was found floating in Dragoon Creek just inside the Osage County boundary 10 days later. He died of extensive blunt trauma to the neck and head followed by asphyxiation, according to medical testimony.

Word of the strong possibility of a mistrial came after the jury of eight men and four women deliberated 14 hours over Tuesday and Wednesday.

Wednesday was the eighth day of the trial, which included six days of testimony.

At 3:45 p.m., the jury sent a note to Smith that stated, "Upon review of all evidence and testimony presented to us, we are deadlocked." The note was signed by the presiding juror.

In response, Smith returned a note to jurors referring them to a jury instruction that generally addresses decision-making, expressing differences of opinion during deliberations, changing "a vote when reason and judgment are changed," and voting according to a juror's judgment.

"It is your duty as jurors to consult with one another with a view to reaching an agreement if you can do so without violence to your own judgment," the instruction concludes.

In the return note, Smith asked jurors whether more time or reading of the evidence would help them reach a decision. Eight minutes after Smith's message was delivered, jurors returned their note, which was marked, "No."

A cluster of about 15 Hanrahan supporters gathered around Shawnee County District Attorney Joan Hamilton, who is the acting Osage County attorney in the case, and six Berberich supporters clustered around William Rork, Berberich's defense attorney, as they separately explained the situation. The two families gathered on opposite sides of the aisle that splits the court's spectator seating in two.

After consulting with Hamilton and Rork, Smith had the jury brought into the courtroom, and at 4:40 p.m., the solemn jurors filed into the jury box. One female juror covered her mouth with her hand and watched Smith and the attorneys.

Telling them not to talk about the case, Smith instructed jurors to return to the courthouse at 8:30 a.m. today.

One male juror who already had his jacket quickly left the courtroom while the other 11 returned to the jury room to pick up their belongings, then leave.

At 10 a.m. Wednesday, the jury had asked to rehear the testimony of Berberich, Dr. R. Don Strong and Dorothy Strong Klatt. Berberich took the witness stand on Monday to say he was attending the second birthday party of his daughter on May 20, 1979, when Jack disappeared. He also said he didn't kill Jack and denied confessing to the homicide.

Strong testified that Berberich confessed to abducting and killing the Hanrahan boy when Berberich sought mental health counseling in January 1989. Strong was then a mental health counselor. Klatt, a former wife of Strong's, testified that she doubted the confession to her then-husband ever occurred.

Smith told jurors he wanted them to try use their memories to recall the testimony, but that he would instruct the court reporter to look up the testimony of the three witnesses they asked for, which would require about 1 1/2 hours. The original testimony of the three witnesses took more than three hours. The judge told jurors they could hear a read-back of the testimony if they asked for it a second time. The second request wasn't made.

Berberich





LOAD-DATE: February 10, 2000

 

Copyright 2000 The Topeka Capital-Journal  
TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL

February 9, 2000, Wednesday

LENGTH: 870 words

HEADLINE: Berberich case handed to jury

BYLINE: Steve Fry Capital-Journal

BODY: "There is more than sufficient evidence to convict this defendant of premeditated first-degree murder."

--- DISTRICT ATTORNEY JOAN HAMILTON,   

the acting Osage County attorney

By STEVE FRY

The Capital-Journal



LYNDON --- Why did Thomas A. Berberich pinpoint the 1979 death of John F. "Jack" Hanrahan ---  someone Berberich hardly knew --- when a mental health counselor asked him when his problems began? District Attorney Joan Hamilton asked an Osage County District Court jury on Tuesday.

But Berberich's defense attorney, William Rork, attacked the testimony of Dr. R. Don Strong, the counselor, who told jurors that Berberich blurted out a confession in 1989 to killing 12-year-old Jack after abducting, punching and sexually mutilating him, then gagging the boy so he would choke to death and throwing him into water.

The jury of eight men and four women was instructed it either could acquit Berberich or convict him of premeditated first-degree murder, second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter. Two alternates, both men, were allowed to leave the courthouse but were instructed not to discuss the case and to remain in contact.

Jurors deliberated for more than six hours Tuesday, remaining in the jury room to eat a lunch provided by the court, before being released for the evening. The jury was instructed to return at 8:30 a.m. today to resume deliberations.

Hamilton, the acting Osage County attorney, said Berberich's reference point was Jack's disappearance in 1979 when Strong asked Berberich when his problems began. The thing Berberich refers back to is Jack, someone who isn't important in his life, Hamilton said. Strong testified that Berberich confessed to him during a 1989 counseling session that he killed Jack.

When Berberich filed a grievance with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. after he was fired for sleeping on the job May 21 and 22, 1979, he wrote that Jack was a relative and was close to him, Hamilton said, referring to the written grievance. The grievance also said Berberich was on duty May 19 and 20, 1979, with the U.S. Army Reserve and that Berberich had arrived at work May 21, 1979, without sleeping because he had searched all day for Jack, Hamilton said.

Hamilton said Berberich wasn't searching for the missing Hanrahan boy May 21, 1979, as he testified, and he joined a May 24, 1979, search party only to find out whether authorities had made the connection to Berberich in the boy's disappearance. Berberich fell asleep May 21 and 22, 1979, "because he had committed the crime," Hamilton said.

During a January 1989 hearing, Berberich testified about Jack's case, saying the boy was raped and molested; however, there is no evidence to show that information was being circulated in public, Hamilton said.

Topeka Capital-Journal newspaper stories in the 1979 time frame noted that Jack's father said his son liked to talk and talk, Hamilton said. When Berberich confessed to Strong that he killed the Hanrahan boy, Berberich said the boy wouldn't shut up, and "the only person who would know that would be the person who was there to shut him up," Hamilton said.

Everything Berberich told Strong is consistent with a violent, premeditated murder by this defendant, Hamilton said.

"There is more than sufficient evidence to convict this defendant of premeditated first-degree murder. Finally in 1996, the connection, the opportunity, the motive and the crime were revealed as to this defendant committing it," she said.

Rork said Strong had turned in other people in the slaying of the Hanrahan boy before he told authorities that Berberich confessed to him in 1989. Strong's motivation for telling authorities that he had heard a confession in the Hanrahan case was "human nature," Rork said. "Why does anyone do anything?"

Rork reminded jurors that Dorothy Strong Klatt, Strong's former wife, testified she didn't think Strong had heard a confession to anything and that Strong had asked Berberich whether he killed Jack rather than hearing Berberich state he killed Jack.

Strong asked Berberich whether he killed Jack because he knew Berberich had ties to the Hanrahan family, Rork said. Berberich and Cindy Hanrahan Cairns, one of Jack's first cousins, had had a relationship that was estranged in May 1979, according to testimony.

Strong tried to get Berberich to sign a paper saying he killed Jack in order to produce evidence that would solve what Rork referred to as "the crime of the century." Strong's account of the confession by Berberich didn't provide details about the crime, such as how Jack was taken from a bowling alley or the type of car used in the abduction, Rork said.

Rork acknowledged that Berberich's grievance with Goodyear on the sleeping incident was "embellished" to try to save Berberich's job at the company. "Are you going to convict him for falling asleep?" Rork asked.

Rork offered jurors someone else to consider as a suspect in Jack's abduction and death: a Topeka State Hospital patient convicted of sexually molesting a boy. Rork said the man was free from the hospital the day Jack disappeared and was in the Harveyville area. Investigators had cleared that man as a suspect in the case.

Berberich





LOAD-DATE: February 9, 2000

 

Copyright 2000 The Topeka Capital-Journal  
TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL

February 8, 2000, Tuesday

LENGTH: 944 words

HEADLINE: Berberich denies slaying, says he was with family

BYLINE: Steve Fry Capital-Journal

BODY: By STEVE FRY

The Capital-Journal



LYNDON --- Thomas A. Berberich told jurors Monday that he was with his daughter celebrating her second birthday at a family party on May 20, 1979, the day John F. "Jack" Hanrahan, 12, disappeared from Topeka.

The date of May 20, 1979, became crucial on Monday in the Berberich trial as the defendant's attorney sought to show that Berberich couldn't have abducted Jack because he was attending the family gathering.

By early Monday afternoon, jurors had heard the last witness in the trial, and Osage County District Judge James Smith told them to return today to hear closing arguments and his instructions, then to begin deliberations on whether to convict or acquit Berberich in the slaying of the Hanrahan boy. Smith will whittle the panel of 14 jurors and alternates down to 12 jurors after the 14 hear the closing arguments and instructions.

Berberich is charged with premeditated first-degree murder.

On the sixth day of the trial, jurors heard Berberich testify he had nothing to do with Jack's death and didn't confess to the slaying to Dr. R. Don Strong, a mental health counselor, or to Lewis William Holden, a prisoner that Berberich was housed with in the Osage County Jail. Both testified earlier that Berberich confessed the slaying to them.

On May 20, 1979, Berberich said he awoke at 8 a.m., went to his parents' Topeka home about 9:30 a.m. and then went to pick up his daughter to take her to his parents' house, where they and other Berberich family members had a Sunday dinner and birthday cake with two candles on it.

A day earlier, Berberich, a member of a U.S. Army Reserve evacuation hospital unit, got excused from attending monthly drill on May 20 by his section sergeant, Berberich testified. May 20 was only his second day in the Reserves, Berberich said on questioning from Assistant District Attorney Tony Rues.

Berberich identified a series of photographs of what he said showed him with his daughter in a car and in a kitchen and living room at his parents' house, all at the family birthday party for her on May 20, 1979. In the early evening of that day, Berberich met Cindy Hanrahan Cairns, his child's mother and Jack's cousin, at a parking lot where the youngster was returned to Cairns.

What about the statement of Cairns that their daughter wasn't with Berberich on May 20? asked William Rork, Berberich's defense attorney.

"That was a lie," Berberich said.

After the birthday party, Berberich said, he worked at his overnight job at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and heard the afternoon of May 21 on television that Jack was missing. Berberich said he went to Burnett's Mound to search for the boy.

Berberich said he searched a second time for the boy on May 24, when he chanced onto a group of more than 100 people gathering at what is now Felker Park to search the adjacent grounds of the Colmery-O'Neil VA Medical Center for signs of the boy.

At one point while testifying about how he was referred to Strong in January 1989, Berberich inadvertently mentioned he had fallen asleep "two or three times during my  trial."

Before the trial began, Smith issued an order barring the mention of Berberich's conviction in January 1989 for sexual assault of a child.

When he went to Strong, "I had been up for days, drinking and drugging," Berberich said. Berberich said he wanted to go to a psychiatrist because he hoped to get drugs. Berberich testified he told Strong the starting point of his problems was when Jack disappeared 10 years earlier.

Why would Berberich use Jack's death as a reference point? Rues asked.

Berberich said that was around the time that he and Cairns broke up, it was his daughter's birthday, he lost his job at Goodyear for sleeping on the job and his car was wrecked. 

At one point during therapy, Berberich said, Strong asked him to sign a paper that twice said, "I killed Jack Hanrahan." Berberich said he emphatically denied to Strong that he killed Jack, then changed the statement to say he searched for Jack.

"I didn't say it. I never said I killed Jack Hanrahan," Berberich testified.

In other testimony, Berberich:

n Denied confessing to Holden that he killed Jack.

n Admitted he was a "recovering addict," having used marijuana, alcohol, cocaine and methamphetamines and sometimes experiencing blackouts.

n Said Jack's disappearance was "sad. He was a family member. I was related to him through my daughter."

Berberich's two sisters and mother also testified that Berberich celebrated his daughter's second birthday, but they weren't firm on whether the party was specifically on May 20, 1979. His two sisters, Jayne Berberich and Donna Berberich-McCollum, said the birthday photos, which weren't date-stamped, were shot between May 12, 1979, Jayne's high school prom, and May 22, 1979, Jayne's high school graduation, perhaps on May 20, 1979.

"I can't say (the party) was that exact day, but I know we had one," Dorthy Berberich, the defendant's mother, said of the May 20, 1979, date.

Vickie Hanrahan Jacques, a first cousin of Jack, testified that Dorothy Strong Klatt told her in 1989 that Berberich had confessed to Dr. Strong that he killed Jack. Klatt, who was married to Strong in 1989 but is now divorced from him, testified last week that she didn't think Berberich's confession to Strong occurred.

Jacques also said that Klatt asked her whether the boy had been sexually mutilated in the same manner Strong and Holden testified that Berberich told them.



--- David Eulitt/The Capital-Journal

Berberich



"I didn't say it.

I never said I killed Jack Hanrahan."

--- THOMAS A. BERBERICH, defendant

GRAPHIC: Thomas A. Berberich testified on his own behalf Monday morning in the Osage County Courthouse in Lyndon during his trial for the killing of John F. "Jack" Hanrahan in 1979. The defense rested its case on Monday.

LOAD-DATE: February 9, 2000

 

Copyright 2000 The Topeka Capital-Journal  
TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL

February 5, 2000, Saturday

LENGTH: 901 words

HEADLINE: Prisoner says Berberich told him he killed

BYLINE: Steve Fry Capital-Journal

BODY: By STEVE FRY

The Capital-Journal



LYNDON --- Lewis William Holden had been in the Osage County Jail for about three weeks when he and fellow prisoner Thomas A. Berberich began talking.

In early January, Berberich confided to Holden he had killed a child in a 20-year-old murder case, Holden testified Friday.

On the fifth day of Berberich's murder trial, Shawnee County District Attorney Joan Hamilton, the acting prosecutor in the Osage County District Court trial, rested the prosecution's case. Berberich, 46, is charged with premeditated first-degree murder in the May 1979 slaying of John F. "Jack" Hanrahan, 12.

The boy disappeared May 20, 1979, after he bicycled from his home to a Topeka bowling alley to play pinball. Jack's nude body was found 10 days later floating in Dragoon Creek about a mile east of Harveyville in Osage County.

In testimony Friday, Holden told the court that Berberich "said he was being charged with a 20-year-old case."

Initially, Berberich talked quite a bit about William Rork, Berberich's defense attorney, saying Rork was going to get him off on a technicality, Holden testified.

Between Jan. 1 and 3, Berberich told Holden that he had confessed to mental health counselor Dr. R. Don Strong that he had killed the boy, but Strong wasn't licensed at the time, Holden testified. Because Strong wasn't licensed, Berberich's statements to him weren't confidential, according to a series of court rulings.

Holden said Berberich described to him how he sexually mutilated the Hanrahan boy, saying it in graphic terms similar to the way Strong said Berberich told him in January 1989 during a counseling session.

Assistant District Attorney Tony Rues asked Holden about his reaction to the mutilation of the boy.

"Just totally surprising, revolting," Holden said. "I didn't know anybody could do something like that."

Referring to another occasion at the Osage County Jail, Holden testified that he and six or seven other inmates were with Deputy Jailer Brian Beets when the topic of child molesters surfaced. Beets told the group Berberich was "alleged" to have committed child molestation, Holden testified. Holden subsequently told Beets that Berberich had told him he had killed a boy, Holden testified.

Investigators contacted Holden after Beets filed a report with jail officials.

The Beets report was forwarded to a special squad of Topeka police detectives and a Kansas Bureau of Investigation special agent probing the Hanrahan case.

Holden, 28, was incarcerated from Nov. 10, 1999, to Jan. 13 with Berberich in the Osage County Jail. Holden is charged with four counts of burglary and four counts of theft, all felonies, according to court records. In 1993, the Kansas City, Kan., man was convicted of attempted burglary.

Rues asked Holden whether he had sought any favors on his pending cases in exchange for his testimony Friday.

"None, whatsoever," said Holden, who added that he has a brother the age of the Hanrahan boy.

In other testimony, Dr. Erik Mitchell, Shawnee County district coroner, told jurors that Jack suffered extensive blunt trauma to the neck and head followed by asphyxiation.

Mitchell took issue with the 1979 autopsy performed by Dr. James Bridgens, a Johnson County coroner. Bridgens' report didn't explain the injuries to the boy's genitals, Mitchell said. However, Mitchell said there are straight margins on the injuries, indicating a sharp object was used to cut them. The injuries are consistent with human activity rather than animal activity, Mitchell said.

Mitchell said there wasn't any way to tell whether the mutilation occurred before or after he died.

A defense witness, Dr. Isidore Mihalakis, a forensic pathologist from Pennsylvania, disagreed, saying it wasn't tenable to say that the victim's genital area had been cut. Mihalakis concluded that the Hanrahan boy most likely was strangled with the killer's hands or perhaps was struck in the throat with the side of a hand or punched with a fist.

Dorothy Strong Klatt, a defense witness, testified that Strong, her ex-husband, never told her that Berberich had confessed to killing the Hanrahan boy. Instead of Berberich confessing, Strong simply asked Berberich, "Did you kill Jack Hanrahan?" said Klatt, who was married to Strong for 10 years before they were divorced in February 1994.

Klatt said Strong told a judge and the district attorney at the time about the purported confession, but she questioned why her then-husband didn't push the issue. Klatt testified it was her impression that the Berberich confession to Strong didn't happen.

Outside the presence of the jury late Friday but in front of attorneys and spectators, Osage County District Judge James Smith admonished Mitchell to let the him know when the coroner wasn't going to be available to testify in court. Smith was unhappy because court had to be delayed for about two hours until Mitchell arrived in Lyndon from Emporia, where he had been testifying in Lyon County District Court during the murder trial of three men charged with fatally beating Emporia State University football player Brian Wagner, 19, on April 21.

Mitchell, who also is coroner in Douglas, Lyon and Chase counties and performs autopsies in numerous other Kansas counties, told Smith he always has multiple subpoenas to testify in court.

Berberich



--- David Eulitt/The Capital-Journal



GRAPHIC: Lewis William Holden identified defendant Thomas A. Berberich at the defense table Friday morning during Berberich's murder trial in Osage County District Court. Holden testified that Berberich, while they were both prisoners last month in the Osage County Jail,  confessed to the 1979 slaying of John F. "Jack" Hanrahan.

LOAD-DATE: February 8, 2000

 

Copyright 2000 The Topeka Capital-Journal  
TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL

February 5, 2000, Saturday

LENGTH: 901 words

HEADLINE: Prisoner says Berberich told him he killed

BYLINE: Steve Fry Capital-Journal

BODY: By STEVE FRY

The Capital-Journal



LYNDON --- Lewis William Holden had been in the Osage County Jail for about three weeks when he and fellow prisoner Thomas A. Berberich began talking.

In early January, Berberich confided to Holden he had killed a child in a 20-year-old murder case, Holden testified Friday.

On the fifth day of Berberich's murder trial, Shawnee County District Attorney Joan Hamilton, the acting prosecutor in the Osage County District Court trial, rested the prosecution's case. Berberich, 46, is charged with premeditated first-degree murder in the May 1979 slaying of John F. "Jack" Hanrahan, 12.

The boy disappeared May 20, 1979, after he bicycled from his home to a Topeka bowling alley to play pinball. Jack's nude body was found 10 days later floating in Dragoon Creek about a mile east of Harveyville in Osage County.

In testimony Friday, Holden told the court that Berberich "said he was being charged with a 20-year-old case."

Initially, Berberich talked quite a bit about William Rork, Berberich's defense attorney, saying Rork was going to get him off on a technicality, Holden testified.

Between Jan. 1 and 3, Berberich told Holden that he had confessed to mental health counselor Dr. R. Don Strong that he had killed the boy, but Strong wasn't licensed at the time, Holden testified. Because Strong wasn't licensed, Berberich's statements to him weren't confidential, according to a series of court rulings.

Holden said Berberich described to him how he sexually mutilated the Hanrahan boy, saying it in graphic terms similar to the way Strong said Berberich told him in January 1989 during a counseling session.

Assistant District Attorney Tony Rues asked Holden about his reaction to the mutilation of the boy.

"Just totally surprising, revolting," Holden said. "I didn't know anybody could do something like that."

Referring to another occasion at the Osage County Jail, Holden testified that he and six or seven other inmates were with Deputy Jailer Brian Beets when the topic of child molesters surfaced. Beets told the group Berberich was "alleged" to have committed child molestation, Holden testified. Holden subsequently told Beets that Berberich had told him he had killed a boy, Holden testified.

Investigators contacted Holden after Beets filed a report with jail officials.

The Beets report was forwarded to a special squad of Topeka police detectives and a Kansas Bureau of Investigation special agent probing the Hanrahan case.

Holden, 28, was incarcerated from Nov. 10, 1999, to Jan. 13 with Berberich in the Osage County Jail. Holden is charged with four counts of burglary and four counts of theft, all felonies, according to court records. In 1993, the Kansas City, Kan., man was convicted of attempted burglary.

Rues asked Holden whether he had sought any favors on his pending cases in exchange for his testimony Friday.

"None, whatsoever," said Holden, who added that he has a brother the age of the Hanrahan boy.

In other testimony, Dr. Erik Mitchell, Shawnee County district coroner, told jurors that Jack suffered extensive blunt trauma to the neck and head followed by asphyxiation.

Mitchell took issue with the 1979 autopsy performed by Dr. James Bridgens, a Johnson County coroner. Bridgens' report didn't explain the injuries to the boy's genitals, Mitchell said. However, Mitchell said there are straight margins on the injuries, indicating a sharp object was used to cut them. The injuries are consistent with human activity rather than animal activity, Mitchell said.

Mitchell said there wasn't any way to tell whether the mutilation occurred before or after he died.

A defense witness, Dr. Isidore Mihalakis, a forensic pathologist from Pennsylvania, disagreed, saying it wasn't tenable to say that the victim's genital area had been cut. Mihalakis concluded that the Hanrahan boy most likely was strangled with the killer's hands or perhaps was struck in the throat with the side of a hand or punched with a fist.

Dorothy Strong Klatt, a defense witness, testified that Strong, her ex-husband, never told her that Berberich had confessed to killing the Hanrahan boy. Instead of Berberich confessing, Strong simply asked Berberich, "Did you kill Jack Hanrahan?" said Klatt, who was married to Strong for 10 years before they were divorced in February 1994.

Klatt said Strong told a judge and the district attorney at the time about the purported confession, but she questioned why her then-husband didn't push the issue. Klatt testified it was her impression that the Berberich confession to Strong didn't happen.

Outside the presence of the jury late Friday but in front of attorneys and spectators, Osage County District Judge James Smith admonished Mitchell to let the him know when the coroner wasn't going to be available to testify in court. Smith was unhappy because court had to be delayed for about two hours until Mitchell arrived in Lyndon from Emporia, where he had been testifying in Lyon County District Court during the murder trial of three men charged with fatally beating Emporia State University football player Brian Wagner, 19, on April 21.

Mitchell, who also is coroner in Douglas, Lyon and Chase counties and performs autopsies in numerous other Kansas counties, told Smith he always has multiple subpoenas to testify in court.

Berberich



--- David Eulitt/The Capital-Journal



GRAPHIC: Lewis William Holden identified defendant Thomas A. Berberich at the defense table Friday morning during Berberich's murder trial in Osage County District Court. Holden testified that Berberich, while they were both prisoners last month in the Osage County Jail,  confessed to the 1979 slaying of John F. "Jack" Hanrahan.

LOAD-DATE: February 9, 2000

 

Copyright 2000 The Topeka Capital-Journal  
TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL

February 4, 2000, Friday

LENGTH: 860 words

HEADLINE: Officers tell of jail confession

BYLINE: Steve Fry Capital-Journal

BODY: By STEVE FRY

The Capital-Journal



LYNDON --- Thomas A. Berberich confessed to a fellow prisoner that he killed 12-year-old John F. "Jack" Hanrahan, a Topeka police investigator testified Thursday.

Former inmate Lewis William Holden, who told Topeka police investigators Berberich made the statements while the two were incarcerated in the Osage County Jail in Lyndon, likely will testify today. Berberich is charged with first-degree murder in the 1979 slaying.

The identity of Holden, who was the secret witness discussed behind closed doors at a pre-trial hearing last week, surfaced Thursday when Topeka police Detective James W. Harper testified.

Harper said that on Jan. 19, Detective Sgt. Danny R. Hay, lead detective on the investigation into the boy's death, asked him to check a tip about information Holden had received from Berberich. Holden was in the Osage County Jail from November 1999 through last month, and Berberich has been in the jail since October, when he was bound over for trial.

The conversations occurred in the jail day room, a common area for inmates, where they watch TV, play cards and talk. Berberich offered food to Holden in exchange for friendship, Harper testified.

The area is monitored by cameras and microphones. In interviews with police, Holden said his conversations with Berberich started on normal topics, but then Berberich would lower his voice so he couldn't be heard by the microphones. Holden said Berberich told him he had killed the "kid," whom Berberich had known as well as the boy's mother, Harper testified.

Holden said that Berberich told him he had confessed to a doctor but that Berberich wasn't concerned about it because his defense attorney "would get that kicked out on confidentiality," Harper testified. 

In a final conversation with Holden, Harper testified, Berberich said he had sexually mutilated the child in the same manner described in court Wednesday by Dr. R. Don Strong, a counselor who said Berberich also confessed the killing to him.

Holden told the detective the fact that the boy had been sexually mutilated disgusted him, Harper said.

As the detective testified, a woman among the Hanrahan family supporters clasped her hands over her mouth.

Several times, Holden asked Berberich why he killed Jack, Harper testified. "I don't know," Berberich told Holden.

Harper said Holden, who knew nothing about the case other than what Berberich told him, had declined to read paperwork from the murder case when Berberich offered it to him.

Osage County sheriff's deputy jailer Brian Beets testified that Holden had told him Berberich implicated himself.

A group of jail inmates was talking when someone said Berberich was in the jail for molesting and killing a child, Beets testified. Beets said he injected the word "allegedly" into the accusation, that Berberich allegedly had molested and killed a child. Holden "looked me in the eye and he told me (Berberich) did it," Beets said.

When he talked with Berberich, Holden was in the Osage County Jail on pending charges of four counts of burglary and four counts of theft, all felonies, according to Osage County District Court records. On Dec. 22, Holden was bound over for trial. His two-day jury trial is scheduled to begin July 5, according to court records.

Despite the charges, Harper said Holden doesn't want any favors for his testimony.

"He didn't believe that Mr. Berberich should be on the streets based on what (Berberich) had told him," Harper said.

As court wound down Thursday, Osage County District Judge James Smith, Berberich attorney William Rork and District Attorney Joan Hamilton discussed the scheduling of witnesses today.  Smith spotted Jack's parents, John and Carol Hanrahan, and Hay, who had drifted into the courtroom to listen. An irritated Smith yelled at prosecutors to get their witnesses out of the courtroom.

Smith has declined earlier requests to allow the victim's parents, who were witnesses Tuesday, to be in the courtroom to listen to the trial.

In other testimony Thursday:

n Cindy Hanrahan Cairns testified that on May 12, 1979, eight days before her first-cousin disappeared, Berberich, a former boyfriend, had become angry and threatening when he wasn't invited to their daughter's 2nd birthday party at Cairns' parents home. Berberich said Cairns "was gonna pay, and don't be surprised if I find someone in the river with cement boots," Cairns said. Jack's body was found in an Osage County creek on May 30, 1979.

n Theresa Hanrahan McCullah, a sister of Cairns, said Berberich attended a wedding dance in February 1979 where a laughing and giggling Jack was playing with another cousin. Berberich, who had to go to work, left the party early, McCullah said.

n Mike Brady, a close friend of Berberich's in 1979, denied making the statement,  "Oh, man, do you remember the look on Jack's face?" On Wednesday, Susan Moore-Eubank, who dated Berberich in 1979 and early 1980, testified Brady made the comment. Berberich answered, "Man, you're going to get us both in trouble. Just shut up," according to Moore-Eubank.

Officers





Thomas A. Berberich

LOAD-DATE: February 8, 2000

 

Copyright 2000 The Topeka Capital-Journal  
TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL

February 4, 2000, Friday

LENGTH: 860 words

HEADLINE: Officers tell of jail confession

BYLINE: Steve Fry Capital-Journal

BODY: By STEVE FRY

The Capital-Journal



LYNDON --- Thomas A. Berberich confessed to a fellow prisoner that he killed 12-year-old John F. "Jack" Hanrahan, a Topeka police investigator testified Thursday.

Former inmate Lewis William Holden, who told Topeka police investigators Berberich made the statements while the two were incarcerated in the Osage County Jail in Lyndon, likely will testify today. Berberich is charged with first-degree murder in the 1979 slaying.

The identity of Holden, who was the secret witness discussed behind closed doors at a pre-trial hearing last week, surfaced Thursday when Topeka police Detective James W. Harper testified.

Harper said that on Jan. 19, Detective Sgt. Danny R. Hay, lead detective on the investigation into the boy's death, asked him to check a tip about information Holden had received from Berberich. Holden was in the Osage County Jail from November 1999 through last month, and Berberich has been in the jail since October, when he was bound over for trial.

The conversations occurred in the jail day room, a common area for inmates, where they watch TV, play cards and talk. Berberich offered food to Holden in exchange for friendship, Harper testified.

The area is monitored by cameras and microphones. In interviews with police, Holden said his conversations with Berberich started on normal topics, but then Berberich would lower his voice so he couldn't be heard by the microphones. Holden said Berberich told him he had killed the "kid," whom Berberich had known as well as the boy's mother, Harper testified.

Holden said that Berberich told him he had confessed to a doctor but that Berberich wasn't concerned about it because his defense attorney "would get that kicked out on confidentiality," Harper testified. 

In a final conversation with Holden, Harper testified, Berberich said he had sexually mutilated the child in the same manner described in court Wednesday by Dr. R. Don Strong, a counselor who said Berberich also confessed the killing to him.

Holden told the detective the fact that the boy had been sexually mutilated disgusted him, Harper said.

As the detective testified, a woman among the Hanrahan family supporters clasped her hands over her mouth.

Several times, Holden asked Berberich why he killed Jack, Harper testified. "I don't know," Berberich told Holden.

Harper said Holden, who knew nothing about the case other than what Berberich told him, had declined to read paperwork from the murder case when Berberich offered it to him.

Osage County sheriff's deputy jailer Brian Beets testified that Holden had told him Berberich implicated himself.

A group of jail inmates was talking when someone said Berberich was in the jail for molesting and killing a child, Beets testified. Beets said he injected the word "allegedly" into the accusation, that Berberich allegedly had molested and killed a child. Holden "looked me in the eye and he told me (Berberich) did it," Beets said.

When he talked with Berberich, Holden was in the Osage County Jail on pending charges of four counts of burglary and four counts of theft, all felonies, according to Osage County District Court records. On Dec. 22, Holden was bound over for trial. His two-day jury trial is scheduled to begin July 5, according to court records.

Despite the charges, Harper said Holden doesn't want any favors for his testimony.

"He didn't believe that Mr. Berberich should be on the streets based on what (Berberich) had told him," Harper said.

As court wound down Thursday, Osage County District Judge James Smith, Berberich attorney William Rork and District Attorney Joan Hamilton discussed the scheduling of witnesses today.  Smith spotted Jack's parents, John and Carol Hanrahan, and Hay, who had drifted into the courtroom to listen. An irritated Smith yelled at prosecutors to get their witnesses out of the courtroom.

Smith has declined earlier requests to allow the victim's parents, who were witnesses Tuesday, to be in the courtroom to listen to the trial.

In other testimony Thursday:

n Cindy Hanrahan Cairns testified that on May 12, 1979, eight days before her first-cousin disappeared, Berberich, a former boyfriend, had become angry and threatening when he wasn't invited to their daughter's 2nd birthday party at Cairns' parents home. Berberich said Cairns "was gonna pay, and don't be surprised if I find someone in the river with cement boots," Cairns said. Jack's body was found in an Osage County creek on May 30, 1979.

n Theresa Hanrahan McCullah, a sister of Cairns, said Berberich attended a wedding dance in February 1979 where a laughing and giggling Jack was playing with another cousin. Berberich, who had to go to work, left the party early, McCullah said.

n Mike Brady, a close friend of Berberich's in 1979, denied making the statement,  "Oh, man, do you remember the look on Jack's face?" On Wednesday, Susan Moore-Eubank, who dated Berberich in 1979 and early 1980, testified Brady made the comment. Berberich answered, "Man, you're going to get us both in trouble. Just shut up," according to Moore-Eubank.

Officers





Thomas A. Berberich

LOAD-DATE: February 9, 2000

 

Copyright 2000 The Topeka Capital-Journal  
TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL

January 27, 2000, Thursday

LENGTH: 697 words

HEADLINE: Murder case turns mysterious

BYLINE: Steve Fry Capital-Journal

BODY: By STEVE FRY

The Capital-Journal



LYNDON --- The specter of key testimony emerging next week in the trial of a Topeka man charged with killing 12-year-old John F. "Jack" Hanrahan in 1979 led to a rare order Wednesday to clear the courtroom.

Near the conclusion of a pretrial hearing Wednesday, Osage County District Judge James Smith ordered everyone not directly tied to the case to leave the courtroom.

The order came after Tony Rues, an assistant district attorney for Shawnee County, asked Smith about the status of a prosecution request to endorse more witnesses to testify during the Thomas A. Berberich trial, which begins Monday.

Rues was filling in Wednesday for Shawnee County District Attorney Joan Hamilton, who was ill. Hamilton is prosecuting the Berberich case as the acting Osage County attorney.

William Rork, a defense attorney, said Berberich's right to a fair trial would be prejudiced by the release of information discussed in connection with the additional witnesses. Rork asked Smith to clear the courtroom, a request opposed by Rues.

But at 10:03 a.m., Smith ordered everyone to leave except for Berberich, the deputy guarding him, his two attorneys, Rues, the judge and the court reporter. Smith told those in the courtroom not to discuss anything that happened during the closed hearing.

Among those who left the courtroom were the victim's father, John Hanrahan; the defendant's parents, Thomas C. Berberich and Dorthy J. Berberich; two prosecution employees; and a newspaper reporter. The hearing ended about 15 minutes later. Smith declined to comment on anything that occurred during the closed hearing.

The identity of the witness or witnesses at issue and the expected trial testimony wasn't disclosed.

Berberich, 46, is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Hanrahan, who disappeared after playing pinball at a Topeka bowling alley. The charge was filed two decades after the boy's death.

Also Wednesday, Smith declined a defense request to dismiss the murder charge and declined to impose sanctions against Hamilton.

Michael Gayoso Jr., a defense attorney, said a motion filed Dec. 1, 1999, by Hamilton had violated a 1997 court order by another judge who had made a limited release of some of Berberich's hospital records, which were confidential.  Prosecutors asked Smith for medical records from three doctors who prosecutors contend would show that Berberich had an explosive temper.

The Dec. 1, 1999, motion revealed confidential information from hospital records six times, Gayoso said, and on Dec. 2, 1999, The Capital-Journal reported that Hamilton was requesting medical records from Berberich. Berberich's constitutional rights to a fair and impartial trial and his due process rights have been violated, Gayoso told the judge.

In response, Rues said prosecutors had to give the judge sufficient facts in their Dec. 1, 1999, request so Smith could make a decision. Hamilton made a "surgical insertion" of facts in the motion so the judge could make a ruling, Rues said.

In declining to sanction Hamilton, Smith said the prosecution filing and the information in the filing don't violate Berberich's rights.

Another motion to determine whether Smith would limit evidence that jurors will hear about the background of Dr. Donald Strong, a prosecution witness, wasn't decided Wednesday. Prosecutors filed a request that Smith restrict disclosure of the background to the jury.

In court records, Berberich's defense attorneys contend that Strong, a mental health counselor, has been the subject of six  ethical complaints from 1989 to 1992. On Wednesday, Rork asked for time to respond to the prosecution request. Smith gave him until 1 p.m. Friday, when there will be a hearing.

On Sept. 30, 1999, during Berberich's preliminary hearing, Strong testified that in 1989, Berberich admitted to picking up Jack Hanrahan at a bowling alley, taking him to Lawrence, striking the boy in the jaw, sexually mutilating the child, wrapping a T-shirt around his mouth, then throwing him in some water. Jack's body was found May 30, 1979, floating face-down in a creek in northern Osage County.

Murder





GRAPHIC: Osage County District Judge James Smith cleared the courtroom Wednesday during a hearing in the first-degree murder case against Thomas A. Berberich. --- File/The Capital-Journal

LOAD-DATE: January 31, 2000

 

Copyright 2000 The Topeka Capital-Journal  
TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL

January 14, 2000, Friday

LENGTH: 432 words

HEADLINE: Lawyers warned to avoid holdups

BYLINE: Steve Fry Capital-Journal

BODY: By STEVE FRY

The Capital-Journal



LYNDON --- A judge told attorneys Thursday that they will have one last shot Jan. 26 to ask for rulings on questions of witnesses, evidence and law before Thomas A. Berberich's trial in the 1979 slaying of a 12-year-old Topekan.

Osage County District Judge Richard Smith laid out some of the rules attorneys will follow during Berberich's trial for the slaying of John F. "Jack" Hanrahan, which begins Jan. 31.

Once the trial starts, Smith told attorneys, he doesn't want any delays linked to filings of motions. He told prosecution and defense attorneys to bring the motions to court Jan. 26.

"Don't come in here with a stack of motions" Jan. 31, Smith said, or an attorney can expect summary rejections.

One motion to be decided Jan. 26 is a request by William Rork, a Berberich attorney, that the murder case be dismissed. Rork says Shawnee County District Attorney Joan Hamilton placed in a court filing some of Berberich's confidential medical records, which were published in The Topeka Capital-Journal.

On Thursday, Smith:

n Denied for a second time a prosecution request to allow three psychiatrists who had treated Berberich to testify about their findings. Smith said prosecutors hadn't shown that the physician-patient privilege doesn't continue to exist. According to court records, Berberich told the doctors he either had an explosive temper or had been treated for temper problems in the late 1970s. According to court records, Berberich told one psychiatrist he had killed before and told the other two doctors he had homicidal thoughts.

n Denied a defense request to exclude the testimony of witness Susan Moore-Eubank about a conversation she might have overheard between Berberich and another man in which she says the man told Berberich: "Remember the look on Jack's face? That was so cool." Rork had contended the remark's prejudicial value outweighed its probative value.

n Denied a defense request to dismiss the case. Rork questioned the credibility of Dr. Don Strong, a counselor who has testified that Berberich confessed to killing the Hanrahan boy. Rork contends Strong has on seven or eight occasions accused someone of the Hanrahan slaying, including Berberich several times. Rork also said Strong has been the subject of ethical complaints filed against him from 1989 to 1992. Hamilton opposed the dismissal request, saying there was more than enough evidence to show there was a crime and reason to think Berberich could have done it.

"Don't come in here with a stack of motions."

--- JUDGE RICHARD SMITH

LOAD-DATE: January 17, 2000

 

The Associated Press State & Local Wire

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January 8, 2000, Saturday, BC cycle

SECTION: State and Regional

LENGTH: 513 words

BODY:
   
 
By The Associated Press



 


Key dates involving Shawnee County Sheriff Dave Meneley's legal problems:
 


-Dec. 4, 1998: District judge orders release of 1996 Kansas Bureau of Investigation report of cocaine missing from sheriff's department evidence locker in 1994.

-Dec. 10, 1998: Meneley denies knowing whereabouts of missing cocaine and says statements to the contrary by three deputies are lies.

-Feb. 4, 1999: An attorney for Carlos Hernandez files a motion to dismiss 1995 marijuana charges, alleging misconduct by sheriff's officers and break in the chain of custody.

-Feb. 26, 1999: Sheriff's Cpl. Tim Oblander resigns. Three days later, he admits addictions to alcohol and cocaine. He says he obtained through his law enforcement work, but denies stealing cocaine.

-March 17, 1999: A group of citizens begins collecting signatures on petitions to force a recall election on Meneley.

-April 2, 1999: Oblander is arrested for six counts of perjury and one count of official misconduct.

-April 19, 1999: Meneley is arrested on two counts of perjury regarding testimony on Oblander's drug habit and missing cocaine evidence. Charges are filed by District Attorney Joan Hamilton.

-April 20, 1999: Sgt. Frank Good, Oblander's former partner, is arrested on two counts of perjury.

-May 11, 1999: District Judge Eric Rosen dismisses drug charges against Hernandez and says drugs used as evidence by the sheriff's department from January 1994 through December 1996 were "irreparably contaminated and tainted."

-May 24, 1999: Attorney General Carla Stovall begins an ouster proceeding against Meneley, citing 13 counts of willful misconduct or violations of "moral turpitude." Eight counts are linked to the missing cocaine and five, to the alleged misuse of a criminal justice database.

-June 15, 1999: The recall petition drive fails because sponsors gather about half the signatures needed to force an election.

-Oct. 7, 1999: Sheriff's Lt. Larry Crady issues the results of an investigation, ordered in December 1998 by Meneley, that implicates another former deputy in the theft of the missing drugs. Hamilton dismisses report.

-Oct. 12, 1999: Members of the Phelps family of attorneys become Meneley's lawyers in the perjury case. Judges had dismissed Meneley's previous counsel, William Rork, because of conflict of interest posed by representing Meneley and Oblander.

-Dec. 10, 1999: Hamilton announces Oblander will testify against Meneley and Good in their perjury trials. She drops criminal charges against Oblander.

-Dec. 13, 1999: Rork steps down as attorney for Meneley in the ouster case, saying it would be a conflict of interest for Rork to cross-examine his former client, Oblander, during the ouster trial.

-Dec. 29, 1999: Undersheriff William Huffmier charged by Hamilton with threatening a witness in the perjury case against Meneley.

-Jan. 4, 2000: Attorney General Carla Stovall files 20 criminal charges against Meneley, accusing him of theft and misuse of public funds. Meneley denies the charges.

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

LOAD-DATE: January 9, 2000

 

The Associated Press State & Local Wire

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The materials in the AP file were compiled by The Associated Press. These materials may not be republished without the express written consent of The Associated Press.

January 7, 2000, Friday, BC cycle

SECTION: State and Regional

LENGTH: 513 words

BODY:
   
 
By The Associated Press



 


Key dates involving Shawnee County Sheriff Dave Meneley's legal problems:
 


-Dec. 4, 1998: District judge orders release of 1996 Kansas Bureau of Investigation report of cocaine missing from sheriff's department evidence locker in 1994.

-Dec. 10, 1998: Meneley denies knowing whereabouts of missing cocaine and says statements to the contrary by three deputies are lies.

-Feb. 4, 1999: An attorney for Carlos Hernandez files a motion to dismiss 1995 marijuana charges, alleging misconduct by sheriff's officers and break in the chain of custody.

-Feb. 26, 1999: Sheriff's Cpl. Tim Oblander resigns. Three days later, he admits addictions to alcohol and cocaine. He says he obtained through his law enforcement work, but denies stealing cocaine.

-March 17, 1999: A group of citizens begins collecting signatures on petitions to force a recall election on Meneley.

-April 2, 1999: Oblander is arrested for six counts of perjury and one count of official misconduct.

-April 19, 1999: Meneley is arrested on two counts of perjury regarding testimony on Oblander's drug habit and missing cocaine evidence. Charges are filed by District Attorney Joan Hamilton.

-April 20, 1999: Sgt. Frank Good, Oblander's former partner, is arrested on two counts of perjury.

-May 11, 1999: District Judge Eric Rosen dismisses drug charges against Hernandez and says drugs used as evidence by the sheriff's department from January 1994 through December 1996 were "irreparably contaminated and tainted."

-May 24, 1999: Attorney General Carla Stovall begins an ouster proceeding against Meneley, citing 13 counts of willful misconduct or violations of "moral turpitude." Eight counts are linked to the missing cocaine and five, to the alleged misuse of a criminal justice database.

-June 15, 1999: The recall petition drive fails because sponsors gather about half the signatures needed to force an election.

-Oct. 7, 1999: Sheriff's Lt. Larry Crady issues the results of an investigation, ordered in December 1998 by Meneley, that implicates another former deputy in the theft of the missing drugs. Hamilton dismisses report.

-Oct. 12, 1999: Members of the Phelps family of attorneys become Meneley's lawyers in the perjury case. Judges had dismissed Meneley's previous counsel, William Rork, because of conflict of interest posed by representing Meneley and Oblander.

-Dec. 10, 1999: Hamilton announces Oblander will testify against Meneley and Good in their perjury trials. She drops criminal charges against Oblander.

-Dec. 13, 1999: Rork steps down as attorney for Meneley in the ouster case, saying it would be a conflict of interest for Rork to cross-examine his former client, Oblander, during the ouster trial.

-Dec. 29, 1999: Undersheriff William Huffmier charged by Hamilton with threatening a witness in the perjury case against Meneley.

-Jan. 4, 2000: Attorney General Carla Stovall files 20 criminal charges against Meneley, accusing him of theft and misuse of public funds. Meneley denies the charges.

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

LOAD-DATE: January 8, 2000

 

Copyright 2000 The Topeka Capital-Journal  
TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL

January 5, 2000, Wednesday

LENGTH: 828 words

HEADLINE: A.G. socks Meneley with 20 new charges Says A.G. and D.A. out to get him

BYLINE: STEVE FRY and TIM HRENCHIR Capital-Journal

BODY: * Judges decline to delay sheriff's ouster trial; attorneys call for more time

Page 7-A





"I know it's personal. I know it's political."

--- SHERIFF DAVE MENELEY

By STEVE FRY and TIM HRENCHIR

The Capital-Journal



Sheriff Dave Meneley, fighting to remain in office, saw his legal problems compounded Tuesday when Attorney General Carla Stovall filed 20 criminal charges against him.

The charges were filed in the Shawnee County Courthouse as Meneley sat in a courtroom in the same building listening to attorneys wrestle over Stovall's attempt to oust him from office.

At a news conference Tuesday evening, Meneley said the charges were part of an effort by Stovall and Shawnee County District Attorney Joan Hamilton, who has charged him with perjury, to force his resignation.

"I know it's personal," he said of Stovall and Hamilton. "I know it's political and beyond that, I guess we'll let the rest come out in court."

Saying he has the support of the public, the sheriff also said he intends to run for re-election in 2001.

One felony count accuses Meneley of misuse of public funds for using sheriff's department drug "buy" money to hire a Lawrence attorney to represent him early in the sheriff's department drug scandal, to file disciplinary complaints against "Meneley's perceived political enemies," to research the expenditure of campaign funds and to represent the sheriff's office and deputies, all between March 2, 1999, and July 12, 1999.

A second count of misuse of public funds accuses Meneley of using "buy" funds from February 1999 to June 1999 to purchase office supplies, court transcripts and photocopies of news stories, police reports and transcripts for William Rork, the sheriff's private attorney who earlier defended him in Stovall's ouster case and in the perjury case.

In a misdemeanor count the attorney general filed Tuesday, Meneley is charged with using money he received as political contributions for his personal use on July 9, 1999, according to court records. The money allegedly was used to pay for Meneley's legal defense of criminal charges, court records said.

The other 17 counts are felony thefts from Shawnee County starting in March 1998 and ending in June 1999, court records said. One count is for $1,100 and 16 are for $1,500 each, a total of $25,100, according to court records.

Besides Meneley, Undersheriff William A. "Bill" Huffmier and former Deputy William David "Dave" Reser were charged with a misdemeanor theft count. The charge is linked to the theft of two blue metal lockers on June 30, according to court records.

Margie Jean Phelps, a Meneley defense attorney, said the sole purpose of the charges against the sheriff, Huffmier and Reser were to pressure Meneley into resigning.

"They picked the wrong person for that," Phelps said.

At the news conference, Meneley said most of the theft charges involved money his department had taken from drug dealers that was then used to pay confidential informants.

"Basically, what we said we paid out to informants, they're saying we didn't," the sheriff said.

Meneley said the attorney general's office accused him of stealing the money because prosecutors didn't think his paperwork recording the transactions was adequate.

"The KBI is notorious for saying, 'If you don't do it like we do, then you don't do it right,' " he said. "That's just not the case. Everybody does things differently."

Meneley said other charges involved his use of money left over from his successful 1996 campaign for sheriff to defend himself in current legal actions. Meneley said he had received a letter from Shawnee County Election Commissioner Elizabeth Ensley indicating this was "an appropriate expenditure."

"I don't know where they're coming from on that," he said of those charges. "They know about the letter, they know what the election commissioner said, they know where the funds went. "

Shortly after the 90-minute hearing Tuesday involving the ouster action, Meneley was served with the charges by a Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent at the courthouse.

Phelps scoffed at the misdemeanor charges against Huffmier and Reser.

"Lockers that were getting thrown in the trash can! Come on, guys!" she said.

Meneley said the lockers "look like something you'd find in a bus depot." He said Reser asked for and received permission to take them home for his children to keep their toys in.

Huffmier was being prosecuted for giving Reser permission to take the lockers instead of allowing them to be thrown in the trash, Meneley said.

The charges against Meneley, Huffmier and Reser were filed at about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday  in the clerk of the district court office on the second floor while Meneley appeared one floor above before the ouster panel of Shawnee County District Judges Matthew Dowd and Richard Anderson.

Meneley, Huffmier and Reser are scheduled to appear at a hearing in district court on Jan. 26.

Meneley





GRAPHIC: Shawnee County Sheriff Dave Meneley listened to questions from reporters during a news conference Tuesday evening in his office. Earlier Tuesday, Attorney General Carla Stovall filed 20 criminal charges against the sheriff. --- Nikolas Cobiella Wilets/The Capital-Journal

LOAD-DATE: January 7, 2000

 

Copyright 2000 The Topeka Capital-Journal  
TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL

January 5, 2000, Wednesday

LENGTH: 607 words

HEADLINE: Judges: No more delays

BYLINE: Steve Fry Capital-Journal

BODY: Two district judges refuse

to grant a delay for the start of

Sheriff Dave Meneley's ouster case.

   

"It is not humanly possible to get ready for a case in two weeks."

--- FRED W. PHELPS JR., one of the attorneys representing the sheriff

By STEVE FRY

The Capital-Journal



Attorneys representing Sheriff David R. Meneley were unhappy on Tuesday that district judges wouldn't give them more time to prepare to defend Meneley in a civil action that could force him from office than the two weeks remaining before the trial starts Jan. 18.

Shawnee County District Judges Matthew Dowd and Richard Anderson repeated Tuesday that Meneley's ouster trial would begin Jan. 18. On May 24, Attorney General Carla Stovall cited 13 counts of willful misconduct or violations of moral turpitude when she asked the district court to force Meneley out of office.

On Tuesday, the two judges declined a Meneley request either to add a third judge to their panel, to allow a jury to decide the ouster or to have an advisory jury hear the testimony, then give the judges a non-binding decision.

The judges formally allowed William Rork to withdraw as the attorney defending Meneley in the ouster action. However, attorneys linked to Phelps Chartered law firm, who had sought to remove themselves from the case, weren't allowed to let go.

Judges said Phelps Chartered attorneys became linked to the case when they filed pleadings making limited entries of appearance in the case. Several times Phelps Chartered attorneys protested the time table in the case.

"It is not humanly possible to get ready for a case in two weeks," Fred W. Phelps Jr. said. Phelps, his sister, Margie Jean Phelps, and Chris Davis were the attorneys defending Meneley on Tuesday. Margie Phelps said it would take two weeks to find an expert witness to testify on behalf of the sheriff about using the computer database to search for offenders. In part, Stovall contends Meneley used the data base to check the backgrounds of at least two organizers of a petition effort to get a recall election of the sheriff. That petition effort failed.

Laurie Kahrs, assistant attorney general, said sheriff's Sgt. Frank Good and former Cpl. Timothy Oblander would be among the 18 core prosecution witnesses to testify in the trial, including 12 current or former deputies. The attorney general's office has as many as 60 witnesses.

Margie Phelps said she couldn't narrow down her list of 150 possible witnesses because she hasn't talked to all of them. Meneley has until Jan. 11 to provide a list of witnesses.

Kahrs said the attorney general's expert witness report was done Sept. 17, but Meneley attorneys asked last week to depose 18 people 70 days after the discovery process had been closed by judges. Kahrs objected to re-opening the discovery process .

"It's simply a delay tactic," Kahrs said. Dowd ruled there wouldn't be more discovery in the case.

Fred Phelps Jr. said he wasn't sure whether he and Margie Phelps, who are state employees, would be the Phelps Chartered attorneys defending the sheriff starting Jan. 18 because of their jobs. Other Phelps Chartered attorneys might represent the sheriff, he said.

At one point, Kahrs said she wanted the judges to issue a protective order to statements by some witnesses because they are subordinates of Meneley. Margie Phelps shot back that Meneley wasn't going to mistreat someone because of statements he or she made during the inquisition.

Meneley is to be at a preliminary hearing Tuesday on two charges of perjury. The perjury case and ouster action are linked to the sheriff's department drug scandal.

LOAD-DATE: January 7, 2000

 

Copyright 2000 The Topeka Capital-Journal  
TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL

January 3, 2000, Monday

LENGTH: 2073 words

HEADLINE: Drug scandal tops local stories for 1999

BYLINE: Capital-Journal

BODY: --- Scott D. Weaver/The Capital-Journal

The Capital-Journal



The revelation of a cocaine scandal within the Shawnee County Sheriff's Department that threatens to expel Sheriff Dave Meneley from office was the top local news story of 1999.

When the year began, the sheriff was denying he knew anything about the cocaine abuse of Cpl. Timothy P. Oblander, a former sheriff's narcotics investigator, and Oblander had denied using cocaine, stealing cocaine or telling the sheriff he had used or stolen cocaine.

But at year's end, Meneley was facing both a civil ouster proceeding filed by Kansas Attorney General Carla Stovall and felony perjury charges, all linked to a drug scandal in the sheriff's department. Sheriff's Sgt. John Frank Good also faces felony perjury charges in the scandal. Also, former deputy Oblander has agreed to testify against Meneley and Good, the result of a plea agreement he made with prosecutors to avoid prosecution himself on six charges of felony perjury and one count of official misconduct.

Headlines throughout the year chronicled the arrests of Meneley, Oblander and Good, the battle about whether defense attorney William Rork could represent both Meneley and Oblander in their criminal cases --- he was disqualified and now represents neither --- and the disqualification of District Judge Marla Luckert as a member of the three-judge panel which will hear the ouster action.

Some of the more memorable sights of the year included:

n Meneley standing in a crowded courtroom before a district judge who firmly instructed him to hire another attorney following the disqualification of Rork.

n Deputies being called to the witness stand where they reveal cover-ups, tampering with drug evidence and corruption, and tell how they were reassigned to jobs below their skills after talking to Kansas Bureau of Investigation special agents.

n Deputies, who testified against Meneley, agreeing to take polygraph tests on the veracity of their testimony. Meneley, Oblander and Good declining to take polygraph tests.

n The attorney general alleging 13 counts of willful misconduct or violations of moral turpitude as grounds for the proposed ouster of Meneley from office. The 13 counts are linked to Meneley's knowledge of Oblander's drug use and the sheriff's related testimony; and the sheriff's use of a federal computer database, normally used to conduct criminal background checks, to examine two county employees and two organizers of an effort to recall the sheriff.

n District Judge Eric Rosen's ruling that sheriff's department drug evidence was tainted and that "crime and corruption" occurred in the sheriff's department "by the willful blindness" of some higher ranking department employees, "including the sheriff himself."

n Ten drug defendants who have pending cases dropped or past convictions reversed as the result of Rosen's finding of tainted evidence.



SBG looks at Watertower

City officials spent much of 1999 trying to get a major development going in the Watertower area southeast of 10th and S. Kansas Avenue.

The last half of the year was devoted to a proposal aimed at placing a new headquarters facility for Security Benefit Group of Cos. at the southeast corner of the nine-block area, with a mix of retail, office and other facilities filling the rest of the area.

Sapphire Properties, of Dallas, proposed a multiscreen movie complex, restaurants, a bookstore and office buildings in part of the area. A group proposing a Kansas International Museum, with an IMAX theater and adjacent 120-room hotel, expressed interest in part of the area, too.

Before the Sapphire/SBG proposal, the last great hope for the area was a proposal by JDN Development Co. that also would have incorporated an SBG office facility. JDN withdrew its proposal in April, saying its tenants couldn't wait any longer for the state to complete negotiations to buy the present SBG office building.

At year-end, it was announced SBG couldn't wait any longer for the commitments from the other developers and would move forward on plans to build elsewhere in Topeka. But Mayor Joan Wagnon was optimistic the rest of the development would occur, with the possible exception of the museum.



Mayor, council

relations strained

Relations between Mayor Joan Wagnon and the Topeka City Council, always strained, approached the breaking point this year.

Late in the year, Councilwoman Fran Lee revealed the aggressive attitudes displayed by some council members in closed-door executive sessions had gotten so bad she had asked Wagnon to have a security officer present.

Wagnon proposed a retreat for the council in May at The Barn Bed and Breakfast in Valley Falls, 25 miles northeast of Topeka. But some council members refused to go, arguing it was inappropriate for the city's governing body to hold a retreat outside Topeka.

Finally, in October, council members met for a weekend retreat at Washburn University with psychiatrist Dr. Stuart Twemlow. It was unclear at year-end how much good the retreat did.



Downtown Topeka

a construction site

Downtown Topeka saw a boom in construction activity, mainly because of state government.

The most visible project was the new five-story building at the southeast corner of S.W. 10th and Jackson, diagonally across the intersection from the state Capitol. Dubbed the Signature Office Building for the time being, it will be accompanied by a parking garage to be built immediately to the south.

Immediately to the north, at the northeast corner of the intersection, restoration of the Memorial Building is nearing completion. The Kansas Secretary of State and Kansas Attorney General's offices are moving in.

Even farther north a new Topeka area office for the Social and Rehabilitation Services department is under construction on the east side of S.W. Van Buren between 5th and 6th streets.

West of the downtown area, the major expansion of Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library showed visible progress.



Washburn goes with sales tax

Topekans got a hefty property tax break and Washburn University expanded its funding base in April when the 1999 Legislature authorized the university to levy a countywide sales tax.

Legislators passed and Gov. Bill Graves signed a bill authorizing WU to levy a 0.65 percent sales tax to replace 15 mills of its 18.3 mill property tax levy. The Washburn University Board of Regents a week later exercised its new authority, saving the owner of a $50,000 house in Topeka $83 in property tax.

Washburn University president Jerry Farley said he thought the tax shift was "a positive step forward for the university, for the city and for the county."

Topeka Mayor Joan Wagnon said the sales tax bill was "good for Topeka, good for Shawnee County and a great thing for our economic development efforts."

Although Topekans still will be supporting Washburn through the new sales tax, they now will share the burden with Shawnee County residents living outside Topeka and others who make a purchase as they visit or pass through the county.



Baby abandoned on doorstep

Investigators ruled out four Topeka women and a 17-year-old girl as the mothers of a 6-pound, 13-ounce baby boy but couldn't find the parents of the infant, who was abandoned Feb. 10 on the doorstep of a southeast Shawnee County home.

The child, found by three 13-year-old girls who lived in the neighborhood, was healthy and had been clothed in pajamas and placed in a cardboard box outside the front door of a house east of Lake Shawnee. The girls, who had just returned home from school, found the baby as they were about to step outside.

"It's like something you'd see in a movie," said Terri Zey, who first saw the child and along with her twin sister, Kristin, and friend Emily Aston carried him inside. "Who in the world could do such a thing?"

Shawnee County sheriff's detectives fielded dozens of calls concerning the child, mostly from people who had seen the 17-year-old girl who was suspected of being the baby's mother.

But detectives later ruled out the teenager's maternity, and the baby was placed in custody of the Kansas Social and Rehabilitative Services.



Commission orders jail probe

Topeka lawyer Mark Bennett was hired to investigate possible inappropriate conduct that was captured on videotape at the Shawnee County Jail.

Two videotapes were turned over to Shawnee County Commissioner Mike Meier, who said they contained "nothing ... really earth-shattering." The tapes, which had been rumored to show jail employees engaging in sexual misconduct, were viewed in an executive session during a Nov. 10 commission meeting.

"The content of the tapes is not what everybody has been led to believe," Meier said. "The issue isn't as much a sexual misconduct issue as a management issue. I don't see any jail employees being fired or reprimanded because of this."

Specific details of the tapes' contents weren't released.

Bennett is continuing his investigation.



Teenager killed at party

The safety of Topeka teens was re-evaluated after the death of Topeka High School student Dion Ross Griffin, who was shot to death by a 16-year-old who crashed Griffin's 17th birthday party.

Griffin was shot Dec. 12 in the back yard of his southwest Topeka home. He died the next day. Witnesses said Griffin had asked four party-crashers, including Joshua Patrick Ransom, who now is charged with premeditated first-degree murder, to leave because they hadn't been invited and were unruly.

According to court documents, Ransom shot Griffin three times with a handgun for which he had traded a compact disc player and $20 earlier in the day Dec. 12.

Griffin's mother, Janna Long, said she left the party to go to a nightclub with her boyfriend about two hours before her son was killed.

"When I was here, everything was fine," Long said about a week after the shooting. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think anything like that would happen or, of course, I never would have left."

Topeka High students who knew Griffin said the culture of today's teenager cultivates the potential for danger, which contrasted to the opinions of Topeka City Council council members, seven of whom said they wouldn't support a citywide curfew.

"It's only dangerous if you let yourself get into that kind of situation," one student said. "And it doesn't really even cross your mind unless you hear that something's going to happen. But then again, there's always someone who wants to start trouble."



Y2K fixes costly

The government pinned a staggering $100 billion price tag on the nation's repair bills for the Year 2000 technology problems, or $365 for each man, woman and child. And although many predicted the so-called Y2K problem would be the biggest non-event in history, Topeka government entities and businesses weren't taking any chances.

Some people feared that when the new century began, computer programs that read years as the last two digits would read 2000 as 1900 and malfunction.

Shawnee County spent $1.8 million in preparing for Jan. 1, 2000, including $1.6 million for software and such hardware as a new mainframe computer, new personal computers, printers, fax machines and other computer components. County information technology director Bill Singer estimated the county would spend about $100,000 in overtime pay and $100,000 in salary increases to keep IT staff members on the county payroll through the year.



Gage Park celebrates

100th birthday

Just weeks after the death of Guilford Gage in 1899, a deed was indentured and filed giving 80 acres to the city of Topeka to be used as a park between S.W. 6th and 10th streets.

The deed was filed June 14, 1899. A century later, nearly to the day, more than 17,000 people gathered in what has grown to become the community's premier park. It was a celebration of the 100th birthday of Gage Park.

The celebration brought more people to Gage Park than any other event in its history. Everything was free on June 12 --- the zoo, the mini-train, Blaisdell Pool and the carousel. Attractions included food, music, pony rides and fire engines.

Since its beginning, Gage Park has grown in size and attractions. The park now covers 160 acres.

Along with the zoo, train, carousel and pool, there is also the Reinisch Rose Garden, several playgrounds, Helen Hocker Theater and Westlake.

GRAPHIC: Downtown Topeka saw lots of construction in 1999 as the state began work on a new office building at S.W. 10th and Jackson. The Social and Rehabilitation Services department and the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library also had major construction projects. --- Thad Allton/ The Capital-Journal After receiving new rails, the Gage Park Mini-train was back on track after a grand re-opening ceremony at the 100th anniversary of Gage Park on June 12. Downtown Topeka saw lots of construction in 1999 as the state began work on a new office building at S.W. 10th and Jackson. The Social and Rehabilitation Services department and the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library also had major construction projects. --- Thad Allton/ The Capital-Journal After receiving new rails, the Gage Park Mini-train was back on track after a grand re-opening ceremony at the 100th anniversary of Gage Park on June 12.

LOAD-DATE: January 5, 2000

 

Copyright 1999 The Topeka Capital-Journal  
TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL

December 27, 1999, Monday

LENGTH: 1799 words

HEADLINE: Big Man Big Problem

BYLINE: Steve Fry Capital-Journal

BODY: Have you heard about the sheriff's deputy?" the tipster asked a reporter in February 1996.

"No. What's up?"

"There's a Shawnee County sheriff's deputy assigned to the drug unit. He's working undercover, buying drugs from  dope dealers. But he tried some cocaine, now he's hooked on it, he can't get off, and he's using drug evidence," the tipster said.

"Who's the deputy?"

"Tim Oblander."

> > >

Fast forward to the present when Sheriff Dave Meneley, Oblander, now a former deputy, and sheriff's Sgt. Frank Good face criminal perjury charges in Shawnee County District Court for allegedly lying under oath, all linked to Oblander's cocaine abuse when he was a deputy.

Starting Jan. 18, Meneley fights for his political life as a two-judge panel will decide whether to force him from the office he has held for seven years based on charges filed by the attorney general's office.

In a slam-bang chain of events starting in December 1998, it's been a tumultuous year in the sheriff's office since a district judge unveiled hundreds of pages of investigative reports compiled by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation about the disappearance of cocaine evidence from a sheriff's department drug evidence locker.

The interweaving criminal and civil legal cases and the large cast of characters has created, at times, a confusing story. What follows is a recap of how the scandal got to where it is today.



The missing cocaine

The case started in early 1996 when  District Attorney Joan Hamilton wrote a letter to Attorney General Carla Stovall asking her office to assign the Kansas Bureau of Investigation to probe what happened to three-quarters of an ounce of cocaine that disappeared from an evidence locker at the sheriff's department in July 1994. Hamilton's office got a tip a deputy might be linked to the disappearance.

The months-long KBI investigation ended in August 1996 within days of the statute of limitations expiring. No charges were filed, and the case and its almost 400-page report hibernated for two years until October 1998. Hamilton then mailed letters to defense attorneys asking them to search their files for old drug cases investigated by sheriff's deputies because the KBI report might contain evidence that could clear their clients. A judge granted the request of two assistant public defenders representing a drug client to open the KBI report.

Later, that case was dismissed after a uniformed Oblander sat in a witness chair and invoked his Fifth Amendment right against giving testimony that could incriminate him. Meneley declined to discipline Oblander, saying the corporal has the same rights as anyone else.

Also in October 1998, Bruce Harrington, a Topeka defense attorney, told how a client whispered to him in court that during a February 1997 preliminary hearing a deputy was falsely testifying about the amount of cocaine confiscated from the defendant during a sheriff's narcotics drug bust.

Deputies took more cocaine than the deputy testified, the client told Harrington. In an interview with a Capital-Journal reporter, Meneley dismissed the accusations.

"I would never believe a crook," Meneley said last week when asked about the defendant's comments to Harrington. When drugs disappear from a law enforcement evidence room, "the criminals, and especially the defense attorneys, exaggerate it. Drug dealers will say anything."

When asked last year about the persistent rumor that a deputy was addicted to drugs and had reached into the sheriff's department drug evidence room, Meneley said, "That's not true."

As for Harrington's client, the felony cocaine sale charge was dismissed in July 1997, and he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor drug charge.

KBI report opens

"Personally, I'm glad it's out," Meneley said two days before the KBI report went public.

The KBI report exploded into public view Dec. 7, 1998, after District Judge Thomas Conklin unsealed it.

Copies of the 371-page report were sold at the courthouse for $12.60, the cost of photocopying it. Conklin opened it after The Topeka Capital-Journal filed a lawsuit asking that it be unsealed. Among the buyers was defense attorney William Rork, who bought two copies, saying he was reviewing the report on behalf of Meneley.

The report included interviews of deputies who told KBI agents that:

n Meneley told two deputies that Oblander was the person who stole another narcotics officer's cocaine evidence in 1994, had taken and used some of the drugs he had purchased on the street and was in treatment for cocaine and methamphetamine use. Meneley denied making those statements.

n The two deputies also told KBI agents that Oblander had told the sheriff he had a drug problem. But Meneley testified that when Oblander entered a substance abuse treatment facility in 1996, Oblander was being treated for an alcohol problem. Meneley said he didn't know Oblander had a drug problem while he worked for the department.

n Two deputies told KBI agents that Sgt. Good told them Oblander had a cocaine problem and had taken drug evidence from a department locker.

n When questioned July 26, 1996, during the inquisition, Oblander invoked the Fifth Amendment on eight occasions, including whether he had knowledge about the theft of the missing cocaine, whether he told Meneley about the missing cocaine and whether he told Meneley he was undergoing drug treatment at any particular facility.

In a news conference in December 1998, Oblander said he took the Fifth Amendment during the Nov. 23, 1998, drug hearing to avoid embarrassment about treatment he underwent for alcoholism and to protect himself from possible questions about whether he was drinking on duty and while driving a sheriff's department car. Oblander denied stealing cocaine from the sheriff's department evidence locker, denied being a cocaine user and denied telling Meneley he stole the cocaine and was a cocaine user.

A day later during a news conference of his own, Meneley lashed out.  He said statements by some deputies that he knew who took cocaine from an evidence locker in 1994 were "a lie."

Meneley was asked whether two deputies made false statements about Oblander and the missing evidence.

"I guess it comes down to one man's word against another. The fact of the matter is I have no knowledge of where this cocaine went," Meneley said.



The Hernandez hearings

The scandal picked up speed in January and February 1999 when deputies testified Meneley and Good had confided that Oblander was using cocaine and had taken drugs.

The hearing was launched after Carlos Hernandez, a convicted murderer in an unrelated case, asked a judge to dismiss two drug charges against him, alleging the drug evidence against him was tainted as a result of mishandling by deputies.

Prosecution and defense attorneys battled over whether District Judge Eric Rosen should release records of Oblander's treatment at an Atchison substance abuse clinic to determine whether he was treated for cocaine abuse or alcoholism.

On Feb. 26, Oblander resigned. Three days later, less than an hour before Rosen was to issue a decision on whether to release his clinic records, Oblander faxed an admission of his cocaine and alcohol to Rosen and the newspaper from the office of Rork, his attorney.

Rosen did release Oblander's medical records, which showed the former deputy had been treated for cocaine abuse.



The Rosen ruling

After the Hernandez hearings ended, Rosen dismissed drug charges against Hernandez. But more importantly, Rosen's ruling blistered the conduct of a small group in the sheriff's department as "outrageous," saying Meneley tried to cover up illegal activities by demoting, transferring and promoting deputies. The ruling also said any sheriff's department drug evidence in a three-year time frame was contaminated. As a result, District Judge Charles Andrews has dismissed or overturned several pending drug cases or drug convictions.

On March 17, 1999, Meneley had dared Hamilton to charge him with something linked to the drug scandal so he could have his day in court. Meneley issued the dare during a radio talk show.

In April 1999, Hamilton answered his dare. Meneley and Good were arrested a day apart for their testimony during the Hernandez hearing. Their arrest came less than three weeks after Oblander's arrest on six counts of perjury and one count of official misconduct.

On May 24, Stovall cited 13 counts of willful misconduct or violations of moral turpitude when she asked the Shawnee County District Court to force Meneley out of office. Grounds for an ouster are willful misconduct, willful neglect to perform a duty required by law or violation of any statute involving moral turpitude, according to Kansas law.



Legal jousting

From there, the criminal cases against Meneley, Good and Oblander and the ouster proceeding, a civil action, spiraled into a complex series of legal maneuvering. The next several months are a morass of filings, counter filings, and appeals of court decisions. Defense challenges have sought to remove prosecutors, witnesses, evidence, judges and sometimes even themselves from one or more cases.

And the results?

n Rork was disqualified from defending either Meneley or Oblander after two district judges said it was a conflict of interest for him to represent both officers or either officer.

n The criminal cases took side trips into the U.S. District Court to appeal state court decisions disqualifying Rork. Federal judges didn't reverse the state court decisions.

n None of the three criminal defendants has been tried. Good has been bound over for a trial that is to start Feb. 7. Meneley will appear for a preliminary hearing starting Jan. 11. In a diversion agreement, Oblander agreed to testify against Meneley and Good.

n The ouster trial, which was to have been on the fast track and was predicted to be decided by September 1999, then later was rescheduled to Nov. 8, still  hasn't gone to trial.

n The three-judge panel appointed to hear the ouster was trimmed to District Judges Matthew Dowd and Richard Anderson after a ruling by an out-of-county judge concluded the public could question whether Meneley could get a fair trial based on remarks attributed to District Judge Marla Luckert, the third judge on the panel.

And the clock continues to tick.

"H

Problem



"I guess it comes down to one man's word against another."

--- SHERIFF DAVE MENELEY,

in a news conference last year

Oblander "tried some cocaine, now he's hooked on it, he can't get off, and he's using drug evidence."

--- CALLER,

to The Capital-Journal

Sgt. FRANK GOOD

Judge RICHARD ANDERSON

Former deputy TIMOTHY P. OBLANDER

Attorney WILLIAM RORK

PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS

--- File/The Capital-Journal

LOAD-DATE: December 29, 1999

 

Copyright 1999 The Topeka Capital-Journal  
TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL

December 22, 1999, Wednesday

LENGTH: 484 words

HEADLINE: Judges decline to delay start of Meneley's ouster

BYLINE: Steve Fry Capital-Journal

BODY: By  STEVE FRY

The Capital-Journal



The judges who will determine whether Shawnee County Sheriff Dave Meneley should be ousted from office aren't ready to delay the proceeding, regardless of the sheriff's trouble finding an attorney.

In a letter Tuesday, District Judges Matthew Dowd and Richard Anderson re-emphasized to Meneley that his ouster trial is scheduled for Jan. 18 and that he personally is to attend a pre-trial conference Jan. 4.

William Rork, who once represented Meneley in the ouster and a criminal perjury case, submitted a letter to the court last week seeking to withdraw as the sheriff's attorney in the ouster proceeding. Then on Monday, Jonathan B. Phelps, Chris R. Davis and Fred W. Phelps Jr., now Meneley's attorneys in his perjury case, asked to withdraw from the ouster action.

Davis and the Phelpses had filed several court documents in the ouster case, saying they were making a "limited entry of appearance" to protect Meneley's rights in his criminal case.

But in their own letter Tuesday, which referred to a Kansas Supreme Court rule dealing with an attorney's ability to withdraw from a case, Dowd and Anderson noted, "Counsel shall not be relieved of duties until the court enters an order approving withdrawal."

Rork had told the judges it would be a conflict of interest for him to cross-examine former sheriff's Cpl. Timothy P. Oblander, a witness during the ouster trial, because they previously had an attorney-client relationship.

The attorney general's office on May 24 filed 13 counts of willful misconduct or violations of moral turpitude against Meneley and is seeking his removal from office. Meneley, 53, also is charged with two counts of perjury for allegedly lying about his knowledge of cocaine abuse by Oblander.

In other decisions issued Tuesday, the judges:

n Denied Meneley's request to disqualify the attorney general's office as the prosecutors of the ouster action based on the sheriff's allegation that anything he might have said to now-assistant attorney general James Welch, a prosecution witness in the ouster trial, was confidential because the sheriff and Welch had an attorney-client relationship, which would eliminate the attorney general's office as prosecutors.

n Denied Meneley's request to temporarily halt the ouster proceeding until the perjury charges are resolved and denied his request to give him full immunity from prosecution for anything he might say during the ouster case.

n Denied Meneley's request to dismiss the ouster proceeding on the basis that he is charged with events that occurred in his first term of office, which ended in January 1997, not the current term. The judges also denied Meneley's request to dismiss the case because he is being criminally prosecuted and because an effort to recall him failed for lack of enough signers on a petition to place it on a ballot.

Ouster





LOAD-DATE: December 24, 1999

 

Copyright 1999 The Topeka Capital-Journal  
TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL

December 17, 1999, Friday

LENGTH: 799 words

HEADLINE: Jury won't hear of conviction Testimony of Berberich's psychiatrists also barred

BYLINE: Steve Fry Capital-Journal

BODY: --- David Eulitt/The Capital-Journal



By STEVE FRY

The Capital-Journal



LYNDON --- Jurors hearing the trial of a man charged with the 1979 slaying of 12-year-old Topekan John F. "Jack" Hanrahan won't hear testimony that the defendant was convicted in 1989 of sexually abusing a child, an Osage County district judge ruled Thursday.

Testimony that Thomas A. Berberich, 46, was convicted of the sex assault charge would be prejudicial to the current case, in which he is charged with first-degree murder, District Judge James Smith said. Berberich was bound over Oct. 1 for trial on a count of first-degree murder following a three-day hearing in the Osage County Courthouse.

Smith's ruling on the 1989 conviction was one of a flurry of decisions during a roughly 90-minute hearing Thursday morning in a tiny Osage County District Courtroom.

Berberich's defense attorney, William Rork, asked Smith to block testimony about Berberich's earlier convictions --- of sexually assaulting a child and of battery in a separate case --- saying testimony about those convictions would prejudice a jury.

Smith said prosecutors wouldn't be allowed to mention the 1989 assault conviction at the trial without his permission unless Berberich's defense attorney brings up the subject. The sexual assault occurred eight years after the slaying of Hanrahan, and Berberich's conviction in that case has nothing to do with his identification in the 1979 slaying, Smith said.

Shawnee County District Attorney Joan Hamilton, who is the acting Osage County attorney in the Berberich case, said prosecutors want to use the sexual assault conviction not to prejudice the jury but to show Berberich's motives. Hamilton had contended it was the 1989 sexual assault conviction that resulted in Berberich visiting a mental health counselor in the time between his conviction and sentencing.

During Berberich's preliminary hearing in the Hanrahan case, Dr. Don Strong, who treated Berberich in 1989, testified Berberich admitted picking up Hanrahan at a bowling alley; taking him to Lawrence; sexually mutilating the child; wrapping a T-shirt around his mouth, which strangled him; then throwing the boy in some water.

Hanrahan's body was found May 30, 1979, in a creek in northern Osage County.

Earlier in the Berberich preliminary hearing, Cindy Hanrahan Cairns, the victim's cousin, testified Berberich had become angry at her and told her the Hanrahan family would pay and that she shouldn't be "surprised if you find one of them in the Kansas River with cement boots."

Berberich lived with Cindy Hanrahan Cairns from 1977 to 1981.

During the 1989 case, Berberich took the witness stand, denied sexually assaulting the child and testified about the Hanrahan case, saying the boy was sexually assaulted, based on what he had read in a newspaper and what "the family said."

In other action Thursday, Smith ruled he wouldn't allow three psychiatrists who had treated Berberich in the past to testify about their findings. Smith said there was physician-patient privilege between Berberich and the doctors and that there hadn't been a waiver signed allowing the doctors to release the information.

According to court records, Berberich told the doctors he either had an explosive temper or had been treated for temper problems in the late 1970s. According to court records, Berberich told one psychiatrist he had killed before and told the other two doctors he had homicidal thoughts.

Smith said Hamilton could ask the judge to reconsider the doctors' testimony if: Berberich wasn't treated at the hospitals for substance abuse problems; if the hospitals where Berberich was treated aren't licensed under a statute linked to substance abuse treatment; and the doctors weren't the treating physicians for Berberich but were ancillary personnel.

Smith also ruled:

n The identification of a confidential informant was moot because prosecutors identified him Wednesday as police Lt. Brett Cloutier.

n He wouldn't preclude witness Susan Moore-Eubank from testifying about a conversation she might have overheard between Berberich and another man in which she says the man told Berberich: "Remember the look on Jack's face? That was so cool."

n Statements made by Berberich to Eric Kjorlie, his attorney in the 1989 case, are protected as attorney-client privilege and wouldn't be provided to jurors. Prosecutors wanted Smith to rule that Kjorlie could disclose any confession Berberich might have made to him about the Hanrahan slaying. Rork has contended Berberich didn't make a confession to Kjorlie.

The next court appearance in the Berberich case will be Jan. 13, when any other motions will be dealt with and evidence will be marked for the weeklong trial, which is to start Jan. 31.

Jury





GRAPHIC: Thomas A. Berberich, left, walked into the Osage County Courthouse in Lyndon under sheriff's guard Thursday morning for a hearing in his first-degree murder case. Berberich is to stand trial Jan. 31 for the 1979 death of 12-year-old Topekan John F. "Jack" Hanrahan.

LOAD-DATE: December 19, 1999

 

Copyright 1999 The Topeka Capital-Journal  
TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL

December 16, 1999, Thursday

LENGTH: 514 words

HEADLINE: Prosecution wants abuse conviction admitted

BYLINE: Steve Fry Capital-Journal

BODY: THOMAS A. BERBERICH CASE

By STEVE FRY

The Capital-Journal



LYNDON --- Jurors should be allowed to hear that the man charged with the 1979 slaying of 12-year-old John F. "Jack" Hanrahan was convicted in 1989 of sexually abusing a child, a prosecutor contends.

William Rork, defense attorney for Thomas A. Berberich, contends testimony about Berberich's 1989 convictions for sexual assault of a child and battery should be excluded because they would prejudice a jury.

That is one of the issues to be heard today during a hearing in Osage County District Court. Osage County District Judge James Smith will hear a series of motions in preparation for Berberich's trial for the Hanrahan slaying. The trial is to start Jan. 31.

Smith on Oct. 1 bound over Berberich for trial on a count of first-degree murder following a three-day hearing at the Osage County Courthouse.

In a court filing earlier this week, Shawnee County District Attorney Joan Hamilton said that it was the 1989 sexual assault conviction that resulted in Berberich being sent to a mental health counselor in the time between his conviction and sentencing.

Defense attorney Eric Kjorlie referred Berberich to Dr. Don Strong, who interviewed Berberich on Jan. 24, 1989.

During Berberich's preliminary hearing for the Hanrahan slaying, Strong testified that Berberich admitted picking up Hanrahan at a bowling alley; taking him to Lawrence; sexually mutilating the child; wrapping a T-shirt around his mouth, which strangled him; then throwing the boy in some water. Hanrahan's body was found May 30,1979, in a creek in northern Osage County.

Earlier in the Berberich preliminary hearing, Cindy Hanrahan Cairns, the victim's cousin, testified Berberich had become angry at her and told her the Hanrahan family would pay, that she shouldn't be "surprised if you find one of them in the Kansas River with cement boots."

Berberich lived with Cindy Hanrahan Cairns from 1977 to 1981.

Hamilton, who is the acting Osage County attorney in the Berberich case, said prosecutors want to use the sexual assault conviction not to prejudice the jury but to show the motives of Berberich.

"Without the aid of the (1989 sexual assault) conviction, the culprit of Jack's beating, mutilation and death may never have been tracked down," according to Hamilton's court filing.

In other filings:

n Prosecutors want Smith to rule that Kjorlie can disclose any confession Berberich might have made to him about the Hanrahan slaying. Rork has said Berberich didn't make a confession to Kjorlie. Prosecutors also are seeking to get mental health professionals who treated Berberich to testify.

n Hamilton asked Smith to reconsider his earlier ruling excluding the hearsay testimony of a woman who Hamilton contends would say she overheard a man tell Berberich: "Remember the look on Jack's face? That was so cool."

n Rork has asked Smith to order prosecutors to identify a confidential informant who contacted Topeka police on Dec. 5, 1996, and said Hanrahan's killer was a relative of the Hanrahan family by marriage.

LOAD-DATE: December 19, 1999

 

Copyright 1999 The Topeka Capital-Journal  
TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL

December 14, 1999, Tuesday

LENGTH: 994 words

HEADLINE: Rork steps down as attorney in ouster case

BYLINE: Steve Fry Capital-Journal

BODY: By STEVE FRY

The Capital-Journal



Amonth before Sheriff Dave Meneley faces an ouster trial, his attorney William Rork withdrew from the case Monday.

Saying it would be a conflict of interest for him to cross-examine former client Timothy P. Oblander during the ouster trial, Rork told the ouster panel of Shawnee County District Judges Matthew Dowd and Richard Anderson during a motions hearing that he was pulling out of the case.

Oblander signed a diversion agreement Friday, saying he would testify against Meneley and sheriff's Sgt. Frank Good in their criminal perjury cases. However, the diversion agreement doesn't require Oblander to testify against Meneley in the ouster case.

Oblander, a former sheriff's deputy, signed the agreement shortly before his own preliminary hearing was to have begun on six counts of perjury and one count of official misconduct, all felonies. In diversion, a defendant agrees to complete certain requirements, and in turn, prosecutors dismiss the charges. If diversion requirements are violated, the prosecutor asks a judge to revoke the agreement, and the charges are prosecuted.

Both Meneley, 53, and Good, 40, are charged with two counts of perjury for allegedly lying under oath about Oblander's cocaine and alcohol abuse. The case had its origins when cocaine that had been confiscated in sheriff's department drug cases disappeared. Since then, 10 drug convictions or pending drug cases have been overturned or dismissed after a judge ruled May 11 that evidence in the sheriff's property room over a three-year span was tainted.

On May 24, the attorney general's office filed 13 counts of willful misconduct or violations of moral turpitude against Meneley and sought his removal from office.

For several months, Rork had fought District Attorney Joan Hamilton's request to disqualify him as the attorney defending Meneley and Oblander in their criminal cases. However, district judges disqualified Rork, saying it was a conflict of interest for him to represent both defendants.

After Rork's announcement Monday, Dowd and Anderson told Meneley's criminal defense attorneys the sheriff had a week to find an attorney in the ouster action. Meneley wasn't present because he was undergoing a procedure for a medical problem with his left leg.

As of Monday, the ouster trial remains scheduled to start Jan. 18, and a preliminary hearing in Meneley's criminal case remains scheduled for Dec. 21 and 22. Hamilton asked Labette County District Judge Robert Fleming, the judge assigned to hear the criminal case, on Monday that the preliminary hearing not be delayed due to the sheriff's leg problem.

Rork told Dowd and Anderson he had represented Oblander in his criminal case, and Rork would have a conflict of interest in defending Meneley because Oblander has agreed to testify against the sheriff.

Rork contended he couldn't effectively cross-examine Oblander on behalf of Meneley because Rork had had an attorney-client relationship with Oblander. Rork said he had to assume that whatever statements Oblander made to prosecutors Nov. 22 and 23 and the results of a polygraph examination administered to Oblander were adverse to Meneley.

What Oblander told prosecutors and the results of the polygraph test haven't been made public.

Assistant Attorney General Laurie Kahrs, one of two prosecutors in the ouster case, objected to Rork's withdrawal, noting that Oblander had been listed as a witness for the attorney general's office since the summer.

Kahrs also objected to attorneys from Phelps Chartered law firm participating in the filing of requests in the ouster case. Phelps Chartered attorneys, who are defending Meneley in his criminal case, refuse to enter an entry of appearance in the ouster case, Kahrs said.

Late on Friday afternoon, Jonathan B. Phelps and Chris R. Davis, who are Phelps Chartered attorneys, filed a request seeking to halt court proceedings in the ouster action because of Meneley's medical problem and not to schedule anything until after Jan. 1.

The filing said Phelps Chartered attorneys were "making a limited entry of appearance to protect Sheriff Meneley's interests in said criminal proceedings."

Dowd and Anderson told Phelps Chartered on Monday to decide whether they represent Meneley in the ouster action.

"You gotta get in or get out," Anderson told Jonathan Phelps and Davis.

He told the attorneys they have an obligation to the court to decide their status in the ouster action.

"Fish or cut bait on this," Anderson said.

Dowd also instructed Fred W. Phelps Jr., a Phelps Chartered attorney, to wear a coat the next time he appeared in court. Attorneys appearing in court normally wear suits and ties. Phelps Jr. wasn't wearing a suit coat or sport jacket.

Dowd and Anderson said they would issue a written decision in about a week on whether to dismiss or postpone the ouster action. Until Meneley hires an attorney to defend him in the action, the judges will reserve making rulings on other requests, including whether to disqualify the attorney general's office from prosecuting the case and whether to limit the release of Kansas Bureau of Investigation reports about the inquiry into whether Meneley used the Interstate Identification Index for non-law enforcement purposes.

The III is a national computer database used to check the backgrounds of suspected offenders. Kahrs objected to releasing the KBI reports on the III investigation because other criminal matters are in those reports. Besides, because Meneley admitted running the III checks except one, the KBI reports aren't "necessarily vital" to Meneley, Kahrs said.

Meneley has contended the III checks, on three organizers of a petition drive to remove Meneley from office through a recall election and on Shawnee County Treasurer Rita Cline, weren't done without a legitimate law enforcement need.



SHERIFF



* Meneley undergoes medical procedure,

Page 7-B

Rork





LOAD-DATE: December 17, 1999

 

Copyright 1999 The Topeka Capital-Journal  
TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL

December 9, 1999, Thursday

LENGTH: 565 words

HEADLINE: Berberich asks judge not to allow testimony

BYLINE: Steve Fry Capital-Journal

BODY: Man is charged with the 1979

slaying of a

Topeka youth.

   

By STEVE FRY

The Capital-Journal



The man charged with the 1979 slaying of Topekan John F. "Jack" Hanrahan, 12, has asked a judge not to allow testimony by three mental health professionals who treated him between 1979 and 1989.

Osage County District Judge James Smith on Oct. 1 ordered Thomas A. Berberich, 46, bound over for trial on a count of first-degree murder in the Hanrahan slaying. Shawnee County District Attorney Joan Hamilton is an acting Osage County attorney in the Berberich case, which was filed in January 1998.

Berberich's attorney, William Rork, responded earlier this week to the prosecution motion seeking the doctors' testimony. Rork asked the judge to rule against allowing testimony about any statements Berberich might have made to:

n Dr. Gilbert R. Parks, who treated Berberich from Jan. 27, 1989, to Feb. 1, 1989, while he was a patient at Memorial Hospital in Topeka.

n Dr. Margaret Bell, who treated Berberich from Dec. 30, 1987, to Jan. 21, 1988, while he was a patient at the Colmery-O'Neil VA Medical Center.

n Dr. Charles Nevels, who treated Berberich in July 1979.

According to court records, Berberich told the doctors he either had an explosive temper or had been treated for temper problems in the late 1970s. According to court records, Berberich told Nevels he had killed before and told Bell and Parks he had homicidal thoughts.

James Brown, assistant Shawnee County district attorney, said in the prosecution motion filed last week that none of the statements to a doctor is protected from disclosure because the doctor-patient privilege can be invoked only in civil actions or misdemeanor cases.

Because the murder charge is a felony and the exceptions to disclosure don't apply, Berberich's treatment records and the testimony of the doctors are admissible, Brown wrote.

Rork contends even if any statements by Berberich are relevant, their probative value, "which is none, is greatly outweighed by the potential prejudicial nature of such statements." Rork says prosecutors are "attempting to inflame the jury with irrelevant information."

Prosecutors also have asked Smith to determine whether Eric Kjorlie, a Topeka attorney who defended Berberich in a 1989 criminal case, can disclose any confession Berberich might have made to him about the Hanrahan slaying.

In an earlier request, Brown contended Smith could determine Berberich had waived any attorney-client privilege with Kjorlie because Berberich made certain statements to Dr. Don Strong, a counselor.

In another filing, Berberich is asking Smith to decline to reconsider his decision disallowing the hearsay testimony of a woman who Hamilton contends would say she overheard a man tell Berberich: "Remember the look on Jack's face? That was so cool."

Rork contends the woman's alleged statement is irrelevant to proving the murder charge or corroborating Berberich's alleged confession in 1989 to Strong "because the statement is too innocuous to draw an inference of guilt. This statement proves nothing."

Rork said two Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents used "leading, suggestive and unreliable means" to question the woman.

Hanrahan's body was found May 30, 1979, floating face-down in a creek in northern Osage County. The Berberich trial tentatively is scheduled to start Jan. 31.

LOAD-DATE: December 17, 1999

 

Copyright 1999 The Topeka Capital-Journal  
TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL

December 7, 1999, Tuesday

LENGTH: 488 words

HEADLINE: Berberich attorney: No confession made

BYLINE: Steve Fry Capital-Journal

BODY: By STEVE FRY

The Capital-Journal



Thomas A. Berberich didn't make a confession to his former defense attorney about the 1979 slaying of John F. "Jack" Hanrahan, 12, Berberich's current defense attorney told an Osage County judge in a court filing.

Prosecutors want Osage County District Judge James Smith to rule that Topeka attorney Eric Kjorlie, who defended  Berberich in a sexual assault case, can disclose any confession Berberich might have made to him about the slaying of Hanrahan.

William Rork, Berberich's attorney, is urging Smith to stop Kjorlie from answering questions about any statement Berberich might have made to Kjorlie. Rork filed the request Dec. 1.

Prosecutors can't question Kjorlie about any discussions with Berberich because those are confidential under attorney-client privilege, Rork writes. That privilege means anything discussed by a client and his attorney can't be disclosed to someone else without the client's permission.

Smith on Oct. 1 bound over Berberich for trial on a count of first-degree murder following a hearing at the Osage County Courthouse in Lyndon.

Assistant district attorney James Brown contends Smith could rule Berberich had waived any attorney-client privilege he had with Kjorlie because Berberich made certain statements to Dr. Don Strong, a counselor.

Strong said Sept. 30 during the preliminary hearing that Berberich admitted picking up Hanrahan at a bowling alley; taking him to Lawrence; sexually mutilating the child; wrapping a T-shirt around his mouth, which strangled him; then throwing the boy in some water. Hanrahan's body was found May 30, 1979, in a creek in northern Osage County.

Strong interviewed Berberich on Jan. 24, 1989, at his office after Kjorlie referred Berberich to the counselor. Several days before, Berberich had been convicted of sexually assaulting another child.

During Berberich's preliminary hearing, Kjorlie was called to the witness stand but didn't testify about statements Berberich might have made to him.

In other filings, Shawnee County District Attorney Joan Hamilton, acting Osage County attorney in the Berberich case, asked Smith to reconsider his earlier ruling about the hearsay testimony of a woman who Hamilton contends would say she overheard a man tell Berberich: "Remember the look on Jack's face? That was so cool."

Rork also has asked Smith to order prosecutors to identify a confidential informant who contacted Topeka police Dec. 5, 1996, telling police Hanrahan's killer was a relative by marriage of the Hanrahan family. Berberich lived with a female cousin of the victim from 1977 to 1981.

Rork also asked Smith for a court order to exclude testimony about Berberich's earlier convictions of sexually assaulting a child and battery, saying testimony about those convictions would prejudice a jury.

The next hearing for Berberich will be Dec. 16, and the trial is to start Jan. 31.

LOAD-DATE: December 17, 1999

 

Copyright 1999 The Topeka Capital-Journal  
TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL

November 18, 1999, Thursday

LENGTH: 525 words

HEADLINE: Meneley tries to bar A.G.'s office from trial

BYLINE: Steve Fry Capital-Journal

BODY: By STEVE FRY

The Capital-Journal



Sheriff Dave Meneley says any conversations he might have had in 1995 with a Topeka lawyer who now is a witness in the civil action to oust him from office were confidential and can't be used against him in court.

Meneley filed a request late Tuesday asking a district judge to block Attorney General Carla Stovall's office from prosecuting the ouster trial. Meneley seeks to pitch the attorney general's office out of the ouster action because James Welch, a witness in the case, now is an assistant attorney general. The ouster is being prosecuted by Laurie Kahrs and John Dowell, assistant attorneys general.

Stovall in May cited 13 counts of willful misconduct or violations of moral turpitude by Meneley, which she contends justifies the civil ouster action.

The motion to remove Stovall's office from prosecuting the case was filed by William Rork, Jonathan Phelps and Chris Davis and was the first time all three attorneys had been involved in the same case. Rork had represented Meneley in the ouster action, and Phelps and Davis had defended Meneley in a criminal case in which the sheriff is charged with two counts of perjury. A judge has barred Rork from representing Meneley in the criminal case.

Phelps and Davis contend they are making a limited entry of appearances in the ouster case to protect Meneley's interests in his criminal proceedings, according to court records.

Meneley, who doesn't acknowledge he had conversations with Welch, says any alleged conversations "are clearly confidential conversations between an attorney and client, as defined by Kansas statute."

Meneley says Welch can't repeat conversations he claims to have had with the sheriff in April or May 1995, and Welch's role as an assistant attorney general disqualifies all prosecutors in Stovall's office from handling the case.

"It makes no difference whether Welch claims --- years later --- that he told Meneley he was not representing him," Meneley contends in the filing. "The fact remains, he gave legal advice, according to his version of the facts, in a confidential conversation."

Welch said he was a half-time pro-tem Municipal Court judge and a part-time lawyer with the Kansas Board of Healing Arts in May 1995.

Meneley also is seeking to remove Shawnee County District Judges Marla Luckert, Richard Anderson and Matthew Dowd and all other Shawnee County district judges as the judicial panel to decide whether to oust him from office. The question of whether Shawnee County judges can hear the ouster trial is expected to be answered within days.

In the criminal case against Meneley, he is scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing Dec. 21 and 22 on the perjury charges. Former sheriff's Cpl. Timothy P. Oblander, who resigned as a deputy, is to appear at a preliminary hearing on charges of six counts of perjury and one count of official misconduct Monday.

The criminal cases against Meneley, Oblander and sheriff's Sgt. Frank Good, who is charged with two counts of perjury, are being prosecuted by Shawnee County District Attorney Joan Hamilton's office.

Sheriff

Dave Meneley

LOAD-DATE: December 17, 1999

 

The Associated Press State & Local Wire

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The materials in the AP file were compiled by The Associated Press. These materials may not be republished without the express written consent of The Associated Press.

November 3, 1999, Wednesday, PM cycle

SECTION: State and Regional

LENGTH: 480 words

HEADLINE: Judges postpone Meneley's ouster trial

BYLINE: By DAVID MILES, Associated Press Writer

DATELINE: TOPEKA, Kan.

BODY:
   The trial to decide whether Shawnee County Sheriff Dave Meneley should be removed from office has been delayed to allow a judge time to determine if his colleagues who plan to hear the case should be replaced.

The civil trial was scheduled to start Monday, but on Tuesday was continued to a yet-to-be-determined date.

The trial was delayed to give Chief Judge Tracy Klinginsmith of the 2nd Judicial District time to review Meneley's bid to remove Shawnee County District Judges Marla Luckert, Matthew Dowd and Richard Anderson from presiding at his trial, Supreme Court spokesman Ron Keefover said.

On Friday, Meneley filed an affidavit, stating he didn't think he could get a fair trial before the three judges or any of the other 11 trial judges in Shawnee County.

The state Supreme Court on Monday appointed Klinginsmith, of Holton, to review Meneley's objection. Klinginsmith's district includes Jackson, Jefferson, Wabaunsee and Pottawatomie counties.

Keefover said the judge probably wouldn't make a ruling on Meneley's affidavit for another two to three weeks. As a result, the trial couldn't begin next week.

Meneley's attorney, William Rork, of Topeka, said he is glad Klinginsmith is reviewing the matter.

"We're not happy that it's delayed, but we're happy that the process is working," Rork said.

Mary Tritsch, spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, said, "We obviously would have liked it to have gone forward and be done with it, but that's the way things go sometimes."

On a separate legal front, Meneley also faces two felony counts of perjury. Those charges were filed by Shawnee County District Attorney Joan Hamilton in April. A preliminary hearing is set for Dec. 21.

The charges stem from testimony Meneley gave Feb. 22 and March 9 in a drug case in which the defendant alleged misconduct by the sheriff's department in handling evidence.

Meneley testified he didn't know one of his deputies had a cocaine addiction in 1995, until that officer admitted it publicly earlier this year. The deputy, Timothy Oblander, resigned in February.

On May 24, Attorney General Carla Stovall filed an ouster petition against Meneley, citing 13 counts of willful misconduct or violations of moral turpitude.

Stovall said Meneley knew in 1995 that Oblander was using illegal drugs obtained from the sheriff's office or was purchasing drugs with official law enforcement fund money.

In March, citizens began circulating a recall petition to put on the ballot the question of whether Meneley should keep the office he has held for more than six years. The petition failed to get enough signatures.

In addition to alleging Meneley gave false testimony, the ouster petition said Meneley ran background checks on some of those involved in the recall petition. It said the checks were done "without a legitimate law enforcement need."

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

LOAD-DATE: November 4, 1999

 

Copyright 1999 The Topeka Capital-Journal  
TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL

November 3, 1999, Wednesday

LENGTH: 422 words

HEADLINE: Oblander's wife free of charge

BYLINE: Steve Fry Capital-Journal

BODY: SHERIFF'S SCANDAL

   

* Meneley ouster trial delayed

Page 7-A

By STEVE FRY

The Capital-Journal



AShawnee County judge has dismissed a charge of disobeying a subpoena against LeAnn Oblander, whom the attorney general had accused of failing to testify at an inquisition linked to the ouster action against Sheriff Dave Meneley.

The attorney general's office on Tuesday was reviewing the decision by District Judge Marla Luckert to determine whether to refile the charge, said Mary Tritsch, spokeswoman for Attorney General Carla Stovall.

Oblander is married to Timothy P. Oblander, a former sheriff's deputy who is charged in Shawnee County District Court with six counts of perjury and one count of official misconduct, all in connection with a drug scandal in the sheriff's department. Besides being the subject of an attorney general's ouster proceeding, Meneley is charged with two counts of perjury stemming from the scandal.

The attorney general's office had contended that LeAnn Oblander on July 7 had disobeyed a subpoena issued by Stovall's office ordering her to testify in the inquisition.

Defense attorney William Rork has told Luckert the count of disobeying a subpoena should be dismissed because Oblander appeared, but Laurie Kahrs, an assistant attorney general, refused to allow her to testify; the statute she is charged under is unconstitutionally vague; and the attorney general's office should have pursued a civil contempt or enforcement action rather than a criminal charge.

In a ruling issued Monday afternoon, Luckert dismissed the misdemeanor charge, saying it didn't allege any "intent" by Oblander to disobey the subpoena.

The alleged violation of failing to testify at the inquisition depends upon "intent, good faith and the surrounding circumstances," Luckert said, quoting from a Kansas Supreme Court ruling in a 1979 case.

Luckert said in essence that the Kansas law requiring a witness to testify is a contempt provision. In light of the 1979 case and general contempt law, the attorney general's office "must allege and prove intent," the judge said.

Luckert had ruled on Sept. 22 that Oblander didn't have a constitutional right to have her attorney present while she was questioned but could consult with an attorney during the proceeding and had no obligations to answer "improper questions."

"This statutory language would be hollow if a witness had no opportunity to consult with an attorney to determine whether questions were proper or improper," Luckert wrote.

LOAD-DATE: December 17, 1999