LARNED – Jacob Ohnmacht, 27, of Larned, appeared in custody Thursday afternoon in the Pawnee County District Court for sentencing in the Dec. 12, 2016, death of his wife Kayla Parrett. Kayla was 21 years old at the time of her death. In all, he was sentenced to 18 and a half years in prison.
The case stems from an investigation by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Pawnee County Sheriff’s Department and Coroner Dr. Lyle Noordhoek related to the death his wife on the evening of Dec. 12, 2016, at their residence in rural Pawnee County, said Pawnee County Attorney Doug McNett. Ohnmacht had told investigators he’d left the residence that night for a short time and when he returned he found his wife hanging in an outside garden shed. The physical evidence at the scene, however, did not support the defendant’s story of a self-hanging.
On Feb. 22, 2018, Ohnmacht pled Guilty pursuant to a negotiated plea of voluntary manslaughter and felony inference with law enforcement. At the plea hearing, Ohnmacht told the Court that when he came home on the night in question 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.
McNett said Ohnmacht was originally charged with of intentional murder in the second degree, three counts of felony interference of law enforcement and one count of misdemeanor interference of law enforcement. 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 victim’s family was consulted throughout the plea negotiation process and were present in the courtroom at the time of the plea. Six family members made statements to the Court at the sentencing hearing.
The defendant then read a statement requesting the Court for a reduced sentence to allow him to be out of prison for the high school graduation of his son, who is currently 6 years old.
After hearing the statements of the families and defendant, as well as arguments of counsel, District Judge Bruce Gatterman denied the request by the defendant for a downward departure and sentenced Ohnmacht to standard sentence of 216 months prison for the voluntary manslaughter conviction and an additional six months for felony inference with law enforcement. In running the counts consecutive, Judge Gatterman noted that the defendant’s lie to law enforcement had allowed him to remain free six months longer than had he acknowledged his role in Kayla’s death from the beginning.
As part of the plea agreement, the defendant also agreed to waive any right of appeal for his voluntary manslaughter conviction and additionally agreed to waive a pending appeal from his August 16, 2017, conviction for criminal threat related to texts regarding splitting in a law enforcement officer’s pizza.
“My heart breaks for the victim’s family as there is no sentence that will truly feel like justice for the death of Kayla. In my negotiations, I wanted, however, to ensure there would be a legal closure for the family. The waiver of all appeal rights by the defendant reaches that end,” McNett said in response to why his office agreed to reduce the charges. McNett also added that had Ohnmacht not committed the subsequent criminal threat, his presumptive sentence at the time of Kayla’s death would have been 253 months for second degree murder.
The case was designated as a domestic violence offense and Ohnmacht will be required to register for a period of 15 years as a violent offender under the Kansas Offender Registration Act following his release from prison. By operation of law he will be able to earn up to 15 percent good-time credit.
The defendant remains in the custody of the Ford County Jail pending transfer to the Kansas Department of Corrections.