Barton County juries found LaVeta D. Miller guilty of two counts of theft by deception and Jeffery Wade Chapman guilty of first-degree murder in 2015. These were among the top local trials of the year.
Another criminal case that drew local attention but did not require a trial was that of Chris Solida, an Oklahoma man who was involved in a four-hour standoff on 10th Street last summer.
Great Bend Tribune readers also followed local cases in the U.S. District Court, Kansas Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court in 2015.
LaVeta D. Miller
LaVeta D. Miller was sentenced to 25 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $129,000 in restitution for stealing money earmarked for World War II veterans to visit Washington, D.C. Barton County District Judge Ron Svaty departed from sentencing guidelines that would have placed Miller on probation.
Most of the money stolen from Central Prairie Resource Conservation and Development district between March 1, 2009, and July 21, 2012, was earmarked for the Central Prairie Honor Flight program. On March 9, a jury found Miller guilty of two counts of theft by deception.
According to the Kansas Department of Corrections, Miller, 60, is in minimum-level custody at the Topeka Correctional Facility. “LaVeta Miller” is listed as an alias for Laveta D. Dringmann. She is working and has completed prison programs for the transition to a future life outside of prison. Her earliest possible release date is Nov. 1, 2016.
Jeffery Wade Chapman
Damon L. Galyardt, 25, had everything to live for – including the future birth of his daughter – when his life was cut short the night of Nov. 11, 2011. This year Galyardt’s killer, Jeffery Wade Chapman, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for at least 25 years.
Chapman, 34, was found guilty in February by a Barton County jury of first-degree premeditated murder. He is in maximum security at Lansing.
Prior to Chapman’s trial, the Great Bend Tribune reported on his desire to remove or cover a distinctive neck tattoo that says “MURDER” in reversed letters, although his attorney said it was “REDRUM,” an alcoholic beverage.
Other jury trials
In September, a Barton County jury found Steven Terry “Dewey” Jordan, 46, guilty of rape, aggravated burglary and criminal damage to property. On Feb. 3, 2013, Jordan broke the dead-bolt on the wooden door of a residence in the 1100 block of Morphy Street in Great Bend, where he raped a 22-year-old woman. He was still in the Barton County Jail as of Dec. 30.
In November, a jury found Jacob Ryan Davis not guilty on four counts of aggravated assault, stemming from an altercation that happened around 2 a.m. on Nov. 2, 2014, at Charlie’s Place bar in Great Bend. Davis drew a gun during the incident, but stopped a fight in doing so.
In December, a jury found Darrin Hirsh, a Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper formerly of Great Bend, guilty of one count of aggravated assault, two counts of criminal threat and one count of domestic battery, all involving an altercation on March 12, 2013, with Candice Hirsh, who was his wife at the time. He is in custody at the county jail pending sentencing.
A crime that drew a great deal of attention this past summer was that of Chris Solida, who was involved in a four-hour standoff with law enforcement on the evening of Aug. 14. From 6:30-11 p.m., Solida held up in his car in the parking lot between Perkins Restaurant and the Best Western Angus Inn.
Solida, of Woodward County, Okla., had reportedly shot his wife in the head that afternoon and fled to Great Bend with their two kids, ages 9 month and 2 years. (She was later released from the hospital.) With about 40 officers from several agencies on hand, a multi-block area cordoned off and tactical teams at the ready, officers negotiated with Solida.
He finally surrendered peacefully and was taken into custody.
In Barton County, he was charged with two counts of aggravated endangerment of a child. Those felony charges were reduced to misdemeanor counts of endangering a child. He was in the Barton County Jail until late October, when he was returned to Oklahoma.
U.S. Court: Brian Harrison
In June, Brian W. Harrison, 56, a former loan officer at Farmer’s Bank and Trust in Great Bend, was sentenced to six months in prison followed by six months home detention for bank fraud. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said he was ordered to pay $124,000 in restitution and $50,000 in a personal forfeiture judgment.
Harrison pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud, which occurred during his employment from 2004 to 2012.
Online records show Harrison is scheduled to be released on Jan. 14, 2016, from the Residential Reentry Management field office in Kansas City, Kan.
In March, the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed Adam J. Longoria’s 2012 Barton County convictions of capital murder, vehicle burglary, and theft. Longoria killed 14-year-old Alicia DeBolt, Great Bend, in 2010. Now 42 years old, he is in “special management” at Lansing Correctional Facility
In July, the Kansas Supreme Court vacated the death sentences of three killers, including one in Barton County, citing errors in jury instructions and sentencing proceedings.
On Oct. 7, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments seeking to reinstate the death penalty for Reginald Carr, Jonathan Carr and Sidney Gleason.
The Carr cases arise from murders in Sedgwick County in December 2000.
In 2004, Gleason and his cousin murdered Mikiala “Miki” Martinez and Darren Wornkey because they feared would Martinez would implicate them in a robbery. Now 36, Gleason is in special management at the El Dorado Correctional Facility.
His cousin, Damien Thompson, 37, is at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility and has a job there. His custody level is low-medium. He will not be eligible for parole before 2029.
On Friday, the Tribune will report on some Barton County District Court cases that will continue in 2016.