Archive for Thursday, December 20, 2007

Youths await court date

December 20, 2007

Three youths charged with a November 2005 Bonner Springs murder are scheduled a preliminary hearing Thursday morning in Wyandotte County District Court.

Jon Backus, 21, Bonner Springs, Robert Haberlein, 19, Kansas City, Kan., and Amber Russell, 17, Lenexa, were arrested and charged in September for the murder of Robin Bell, a manager at the northside Dollar General. The three are set to appear at 10 a.m. today in the Juvenile Court, Division 15 before Judge David Boal.

Backus, who was an adult at the time of the crime, is appearing in the juvenile court at the same time as the other two, who were minors at the time, formatters of judicial economy, said Chris Schneider, assistant district attorney for Wyandotte County.

Preliminary hearings serve to determine whether probably cause exists to believe the crime was committed by the defendants charged with it. Additionally, Boal will rule on whether Russell and Haberlein, who were minors at the time of Backus, can be certified to stand trial as adults.

If either of the two are certified to stand trial as an adult, they will probably be tried in the same trial as Backus, Schneider said, "because it doesn't make sense to have three separate trials," Schneider said.

The arraignment for all three will likely take place after the hearing, when the defendants will then enter their formal pleas. A not-guilty plea had already been entered for Backus at his first appearance in late September, but such pleas are a matter of course, Schneider said.

Haberlein and Backus have remained in Wyandotte County jail since their arrest, and Russell is in a juvenile detention facility.

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