File Photo/Herald-Chronicle
James Kraig Kahler in Osage County District Court on Nov. 30.

Wayne White
| Managing Editor

LYNDON—A preliminary hearing for James Kraig Kahler, charged with capital murder for the shooting deaths of his wife, two teenage daughters, and his wife’s grandmother, has been rescheduled to May 19 and 20.

According to court documents, the preliminary hearing was postponed from March 18, due to a change in Kahler’s attorneys. In January, Osage County District Court Judge Phillip Fromme rejected Kahler’s application for appointed defense services, released the Topeka-based death penalty defense unit from the case, and advised Kahler to hire an attorney.

Thomas Haney and Brandi Studer, both attorneys of the firm Henson, Hutton, Mudrick and Gragson, in Topeka, entered their appearance as Kahler’s attorneys of record last month.

The attorneys filed a request for a continuance of the preliminary hearing, citing insufficient time to prepare and provide effective assistance, and noted a preliminary investigation had not been completed at that time.

A motion hearing has been scheduled for April 14.

Kahler is charged with capital murder for the deaths of Dorothy Wight, Karen Kahler, and the Kahler’s daughters, Emily, 18, and Lauren, 16, all shot in Wight’s Burlingame home Nov. 28. Karen, Emily and Lauren died from their injuries that evening, and Wight died three days later.

James Kahler, 46, was arrested the morning of Nov. 29 following a 12-hour manhunt in the area of Auburn Road near the Osage and Shawnee county line.

If Kahler is convicted of the capital murder charge, punishment could be the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

A spokesperson for the Kansas Attorney General’s Office said it would be the attorney general’s decision whether the state would seek the death penalty in the case. If the death penalty is sought, the state is required to file notice after the defendant enters a plea, which would happen after the preliminary hearing.