Wayne White/Herald-Chronicle
James Kraig Kahler, accused of shooting his wife, two daughters, and his wife’s grandmother at Burlingame last year, is escorted out of the Osage County Courthouse by jail sergeant Jerry Nitcher after an Oct. 6 hearing.

Wayne White | Managing Editor

LYNDON—Following a hearing in Osage County District Court last week, a man accused of killing his wife, two daughters, and his wife’s grandmother, showed an interest in a deputy’s gun. During the Oct. 6 motion hearing, Osage County Magistrate Judge Stephen Jones agreed to a defense motion to again postpone a preliminary hearing for James Kraig Kahler.

Kahler, 46, is charged with capital murder for the deaths of his wife Karen Kahler, the Kahlers’ teenage daughters, Emily and Lauren, and Karen Kahler’s grandmother, Dorothy Wight. All were shot in Wight’s Burlingame home Nov. 28. Karen, Emily and Lauren died from their injuries that night and Wight died three days later.

At last week’s hearing, defense attorney Thomas Haney told the court the defendant’s co-counsel, Brandi Studer, had resigned from the law firm of Henson, Hutton, Mudrick, Gragson, LLP, effective this week.

Haney said Studer had withdrawn from the case and different co-counsel would be needed. Haney said another attorney with his firm was “immersed in this case,” but had not met the

defendant and needed more time to become familiar with the case.
Assistant attorney general Barry Disney said the state was prepared for the preliminary hearing that had previously been rescheduled to Oct. 25-26, but understood that Haney “was in a bind.”

After discussion of possible dates for a preliminary hearing, all parties agreed to postpone the hearing to Dec. 21-22. The preliminary hearing had been postponed twice before. Kahler was charged with capital murder Nov. 30 after being apprehended following an all-night manhunt near Burlingame.

Prior to last week’s hearing, Kahler sat in the jury box in the courtroom without restraints, dressed in a suit and tie, and was guarded by Osage County Jail Sergeant Jerry Nitcher. Kahler conversed with Nitcher, and several times showed papers he was holding to the sergeant.

As in past hearings held in the case, the courthouse was heavily guarded with two or three deputies on each floor, and two deputies in the courtroom along with Nitcher.

As Kahler was escorted out of the courthouse door after the hearing, he smiled at photographers and then asked a nearby deputy about the automatic weapon he carried.

“What caliber of gun is that?” Kahler said.

The deputy did not respond to Kahler’s question, and fell in behind the escorting officers as they continued to the jail.

Also during the hearing, the court considered a motion to quash a defense subpoena for records related to marriage counseling undergone by Karen Kahler in Boone County, Mo. With Disney’s agreement, Jones agreed the motion should be dismissed. The court is to review the records when they are obtained to determine their relevance to the defense.