LARNED — Jacob Ohnmacht, 27, of Larned, entered a guilty plea last Thursday afternoon in the Pawnee County District Court to voluntary manslaughter and felony interference of law enforcement, Pawnee County Attorney Douglas McNett said.
The case was designated as a domestic violence offense. Under Kansas law, voluntary manslaughter is defined as knowingly killing of a human being committed upon a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion.
The charges stem from an investigation by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Pawnee County Sheriff’s Department and Coroner Dr. Lyle Noordhoek related to the death of Ohnmacht’s wife on the evening of Dec. 12, 2016, at their residence in rural Pawnee County. Ohnmacht told investigators he’d left the residence for a short time and when he returned he found his wife hanging in an outside garden shed.
A five-day jury trial was set to begin on Monday on charges of intentional murder in the second degree, three counts of felony interference of law enforcement and one count of misdemeanor interference of law enforcement.
Following the defendant’s guilty plea, McNett advised the court that had the matter gone to trial the physical evidence would not have supported Ohnmacht’s story; nor were his wife’s injuries consistent with a self-hanging. Additionally, the State would have presented evidence his wife had been making plans to leave the defendant.
Ohnmacht then told the court that when he came home that night his wife confronted him outside and an argument ensued. He said when she started walking away from him he just snapped, grabbed a robe and started strangling her.
He then told the court she went limp in a matter of seconds. He later called 911 telling them to send an ambulance as he had just found his wife hanging.
After hearing the factual basis, District Judge Bruce Gatterman found Ohnmacht guilty of the amended charges and advised him that he will now be subject to lifetime registration as a violent offender under the Kansas Offender Registration Act.
As part of the plea, the defendant also agreed to waive the appeal from his Aug. 16, 2017, conviction for criminal threat related to texts regarding spitting on a law enforcement officer’s pizza. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend the standard sentence based on the defendant’s criminal history of 18 years in the custody of the Department of Corrections and will oppose any requests for a reduced sentence by the defendant.
The victim’s family was consulted throughout the plea negotiation process and were present in the courtroom at the time of the plea, McNett said.
Sentencing will be scheduled once the presentence investigation is completed. The defendant remains in the custody of the Ford County Jail.