Archive for Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dollar General murder convict to be sentenced

October 15, 2008

Robin Bell

Robin Bell

Robert Haberlein

Robert Haberlein

More than a year after the arrests of three young people for the November 2005 murder of Robin Bell, the first to be tried and found guilty will be sentenced Friday.

The sentencing hearing for Robert Haberlein, 20, Kansas City, Kan., will be 3 p.m. in Division 4 at the Wyandotte County Courthouse.

In May, a jury found Haberlein guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery in connection with the murder of Bell, a Tonganoxie resident and manager at the north-side Dollar General in Bonner Springs. Haberlein’s sentencing had been scheduled for May but was rescheduled for a reason not given by the court.

Haberlein’s attorney, KiAnn McBratney, said after the trial she would ask for a new trial for her client but wouldn’t elaborate on what grounds the new trial would be requested. She will have an opportunity to argue before Judge John McNally for a new trial at the hearing, said Chris Schneider, Wyandotte County assistant district attorney.

Jury selection for the trial for another suspect in the case, Jim Backus, 22, Bonner Springs, is scheduled to begin Jan. 12, 2009, in Division 4 before McNally, and the trial is to begin that week.

Like Haberlein, Backus and Amber Russell, 18, Lenexa, were charged with first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery. The three were arrested and charged in September 2007.

Backus’ trial had been set to start May 5, but the duration of Haberlein’s trial required setting the date back, and then Backus was assigned a new attorney, James Colgan, of Kansas City, Kan.

Russell, 18, who was 15 at the time of the slaying, has a deal with the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office that she will be tried as a minor in exchange for her truthful testimony in the trials of Haberlein and Backus.

Schneider said Russell’s trial would not begin until Backus’ is concluded.

In another, unrelated case, the jury trial for Perry Parks, Edwardsville, is set for the week of Oct. 27, when jury selection will begin. Parks, 61, was charged in May of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in connection with the May 8 shooting death of Everett Suits, 38, Kansas City, Kan.

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