June trial date set in Edgar case

Relates to:
Date: 2003-04-30

June trial date set in Edgar case

Kansas City Star/April 30, 2003
By Tony Rizzo

A June 23 trial was scheduled today for the alleged killers of Brian Edgar while a judge weighs whether the three will be tried together or separately.

The 9-year-old boy's parents and baby sitter are charged in Johnson County District Court with first-degree felony murder.

His mother, Christy Edgar, is seeking a separate trial. The two other defendants want to be tried together, and the prosecutors want one trial.

Christy Edgar's lawyer, Bob L. Thomas, argued that her right to a fair trial will be compromised if she is tried with her husband, Neil Edgar Sr.

Neil Edgar's lawyer, Carl Cornwell, has indicated he will "point the finger" at Christy Edgar and Boyd, Thomas said.

Neil Edgar allegedly told police that he is solely responsible for the abuse that led to Brian's death. But Thomas said he thought both Cornwell and prosecutors would attack the confession as an attempt by Neil Edgar to cover for his wife.

Thomas said Neil Edgar's confession would be a crucial piece of Christy Edgar's defense.

He called it a "classic pointing the finger at each other."

Christy Edgar "can't be tried with Neil Edgar and receive a fair trial," Thomas argued.

District Attorney Paul Morrison said the situation did not warrant separate trials. He said prosecutors planned to show that all three were "heavily involved" in systematically abusing Brian and two siblings.

He also said the trauma on the surviving Edgar children would be limited by having them testify only once.

"Those kids still love these people here," Morrison said, gesturing to the Edgars.

While saying he was sympathetic to the children's situation, Thomas told District Judge John Bennett that he had a duty to protect Christy Edgar's constitutional rights.

Robert Kuchar, Boyd's lawyer, did not take part in today's argument except to say that he wanted her to be tried with the Edgars. Boyd, 19, was a member of the Kansas City, Kan., church headed by the Edgars.

Bennett did not indicate when he might rule on the separate trial issue. He set the June 23 date because Cornwell said Neil Edgar would not waive his right to a speedy trial.

Criminal defendants in custody have to be tried within 90 days of their arraignment. The Edgars and Boyd were arraigned April 17.

Although Christy Edgar and Boyd also are in custody, the 90-day limit does not apply for them because they also face child-abuse allegations in Wyandotte County.

Bennett scheduled hearings on pretrial motions for May 21 and June 13.

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