Archive for Thursday, February 3, 2005

Baldwin cases still in limbo

February 3, 2005

As the changing of the guard continues in the Douglas County District Attorneys office, several high-profile Baldwin cases have still not been decided on.

As far as Baldwin City Police Chief Mike McKenna knows, neither the case involving a teenager who allegedly made threats to disrupt the Maple Leaf Festival nor the case involving another teenager who allegedly pulled a shotgun on another student in the parking lot at Baldwin High School, have brought charges.

"We haven't heard anything from them," McKenna said of the DA's office, where Paul Branson defeated Christine Kenney in the November election. "I'm to assume the DA isn't going to press charges in the Maple Leaf threat. But, that's an assumption. We've had no feedback on the shotgun incident."

The Signal called the DA's office this week to check on those cases, as well as others, and was told that someone in the office would check on them and get back.

Branson, the first Democrat to hold the DA's position for 20 years, took over the office Jan. 10 and found that case files had been stacking up, untouched since the election. He has hired several new prosecutors and hopes to get the office back on line soon. There is one more position to fill.

"I need to wait and see how things work out," said Branson. "Once we work through the current backlog of cases and can evaluate how things are working, we will make a decision about what skills the final attorney will need."

In the first case involving the alleged threats to the Maple Leaf Festival, a troubled Baldwin teen -- who was attending a Lawrence school -- alluded to plans to set a fire to distract police away from downtown Baldwin during the parade and pipe bombs would go off there.

McKenna was tipped about the plan by a Lawrence School Resource Officer, who had been tipped by one of the boy's friends who had read the entries on an Internet location. The boy's home was searched, but no weapons or suspicious materials were found.

The DA's office first said there would be no charges filed in regards to the case, but later said it would be reviewed. That was in October, prior to the November election. McKenna hasn't heard a word about it since.

In the second case, a BHS student allegedly pulled a shotgun from his vehicle after an egg fight in the parking lot following a Baldwin High football game escalated in early November. The student was suspended, but McKenna hasn't heard from the DA on that case either.

In both cases, names of the teenagers were never released because of their ages. In another case that occurred in the same time frame, McKenna said the victim of an alleged rape at a Baker fraternity house has declined to press charges to this point. The University of Kansas student had originally reported the alleged attack to Baldwin police.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.