Jury trials for several Barton County cases are scheduled to take place later this year and into 2017. Here is a recap of recent events in Barton County District Court:
William Howard Baker
The jury trial for the Great Bend man whose trailer came unhitched and killed two motorcyclists on 10th Street in 2014 has been rescheduled for November.
William Howard Baker, 60, is charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the accident that occurred on Aug. 16, 2014, and claimed the lives of Reno County couple Shawn and Danielle Schellenger.
The trial was originally set for May 2-6, but was rescheduled to Aug. 15-19 after defense attorney Charles O’Hara and Barton County Attorney Douglas Matthews both requested more time to prepare their cases. This time O’Hara made the request in a motion that said the parties need additional time to reach an agreement. The county attorney did not object.
If there is a trial, it is now scheduled to start Nov. 14.
Adam Suppes, Alejo Villegas, Juventino Villegas
The murder charges originally filed against Adam Suppes, Alejo Villegas and Juventino Villegas in connection with the death of Aron Villegas on Nov. 15, 2015, have all been dismissed, but other felony charges remain. Adam Suppes appeared in court on Friday for arraignment and entered pleas of not guilty to aggravated burglary with the intent to commit battery, or the alternative of aggravated burglary with the intent to commit robbery; aiding and abetting Aron Villegas in aggravated battery; possession of cocaine; and a misdemeanor criminal damage to property or the alternative aiding and abetting criminal damage to property.
Defense attorney Paul Oller estimated the trial will take four days. That being the case, District Judge Ron Svaty said it is unlikely it can be scheduled before the end of the year.
The state alleges that Aron Villegas and the others went to the home of Sterling Mills in Great Bend, broke into the residence and battered him. Mills fatally shot Aron Villegas. Suppes is also alleged to have had cocaine in his possession before the incident.
The co-defendants were arraigned earlier this year on similar aggravated battery charges; they do not face drug charges. A jury trial for Juventino Villegas is set for Nov. 28 through Dec. 2, and a jury trial for Alejo Villegas is set for Dec. 12-16.
Friday in court
The Barton County Attorney’s Office and Judge Svaty worked through the noon hour Friday to clear cases on the docket. Here are some of the cases from Friday afternoon:
Jimmy Gilliam entered a plea of not guilty to one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. His attorney Paul Oller requested a jury trial which he estimated will take three days. He was instructed to contact Svaty’s administrative assistant to schedule the trials for Gilliam and Suppes.
Cassandra Johnson gave up her right to a jury trial, which was scheduled to start Monday, and entered a plea of no contest to criminal damage to property, a misdemeanor. Other charges, including endangering a child, were dismissed and she agreed to pay court costs, including $369 for breaking a window on Oct. 31, 2015, at the residence rented by her ex-husband on Sixth Street in Hoisington. She was placed on 12 months of unsupervised probation, which will allow her to leave Kansas and find winter work in California. She is still seeking visitation rights of her children so she plans to return to Kansas next summer.
Pablo Nunez, also represented by Roth, had his motion for a bond modification denied. See related story "Shooting suspect remains at large; man charged in related burglary awaits trial."
Lee Leon was arrested after allegedly selling methamphetamine to a confidential informant at Arby’s, where they had agreed to meet, on March 11. He was charged with possession with intent to distribute, a Level 4 felony. On Friday, he entered a plea of no contest to an amended charge of simple possession, a Level 5 felony, which carries a possible sentence of 10-42 months in prison and a fine up to $100,000. His defense attorney is Matt Bristow. Sentencing was set for Oct. 14 and Leon was granted an own-recognizance bond so he can resolve other matters including municipal court cases. Bristow said he expects this will be a “Senate Bill case,” referring to a bill that sends nonviolent drug offenders to community-based drug treatment programs.