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Murder cases continue in 2016
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Four criminal cases filed in connection to two first-degree murder cases in 2015 will continue this year in Barton County District Court.
Three people have been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated burglary in connection with the death of 23-year-old Aron Villegas on Nov. 15, 2015. The criminal complaints state Alejo Villegas, age 20, Juventino Villegas, age 22, and Adam Suppes were with Aron Villegas in the early morning hours of Nov. 15 when they entered the residence of Sterling Mills at 1801 Eighth St. with the intent to batter and/or rob Mills.
It is alleged that Mills shot Aron Villegas and the four fled to 2903 Lakin Ave., where someone called 911 call about the gunshot wound. Aron Villegas died that day.
The preliminary hearings for at least some of the suspects have been set for March 30-31.
A motion hearing concerning what information the public will have access to has been set for 4 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 8, before District Judge Ron Svaty.
Richard Ney, a Wichita attorney representing defendant Alejo Villegas, has asked Judge Svaty to issue an order restricting the public comments made by parties in this case. He notes that Judge Hannelore Kitts issued a similar order in the State of Kansas vs. Adam Longoria.
Ney’s motion mentions the Great Bend Tribune’s Dec. 12, 2015, article on the case, which quoted emails between the county attorney and Great Bend police that were obtained through a Kansas Freedom of Information Act request. Ney asks the court to issue a protective order that will restrict the extrajudical statements of the parties in this matter to protect the  defendant’s right to a fair trial. Ney has also filed a response to the Great Bend Tribune’s motion to disclose probable cause affidavits in this case. He is asking the judge to reaffirm his prior decision to bar the disclosure of the affidavit.

Freddie Thomas
Another case involving a charge of first degree murder is that of Freddie Thomas. He was charged with murdering Jeremy Alan Saldana at 2402 Williams St. on Sept. 11, 2015. His preliminary hearing has not been scheduled.
Saldana, 39, of San Angelo, Texas, was reportedly shot with a handgun during an altercation with Thomas, 49, of Lincoln, at the house around 8:40 p.m. Authorities said Saldana and Thomas knew each other.
A preliminary hearing on this case has not been scheduled, although there have been motions filed concerning the terms of his bond.