S. Bush/The Capital-Journal
Kahler talks with defense attorneys Tom Haney and Amanda Vogelsberg
during his arraignment hearing Monday at Osage County District Court
Wayne White | Managing Editor
LYNDON—A man accused of killing his wife, two teenage daughters
and his wife’s grandmother in Burlingame will face the death
sentence if convicted of the crimes.
Monday, at the arraignment of James Kraig Kahler in Osage County
District Court, assistant attorney general Amy Hanley notified the
defendant, his attorneys and the court of the state’s request
for a separate sentencing hearing to determine whether Kahler should
be sentenced to death, if convicted.
Kahler, 48, is charged with capital murder for the deaths of his
wife, Karen, the couple’s teenage daughters, Emily and Lauren,
and Karen’s grandmother, Dorothy Wight. All were shot in Wight’s
Burlingame home Nov. 28, 2009.
Kahler’s son testified at a preliminary hearing in December,
the boy saw Kahler shoot Karen Kahler with a semi-automatic rifle,
and heard more shots after he ran from the house.
At Monday’s arraignment, Kahler did not respond to Osage County
District Judge Phillip Fromme’s request to enter pleas to
one charge of capital murder or four counts of first degree murder
in the alternative, and one charge of aggravated burglary.
“Mr. Kahler wishes to remain silent and have the court enter
pleas of not guilty,” said Thomas Haney, one of Kahler’s
Fromme then entered pleas of not guilty on Kahler’s behalf.
Kahler answered Fromme when asked if he understood Haney’s
stated agreement to waive the defendant’s right to a speedy
As explained by Fromme, the right to a speedy trial allows defendants
to face trial within 90 days of arraignment. With all parties in
agreement to waive the right to a speedy trial, the judge set Aug.
8 as the start date of a jury trial expected to last at least 10
While reading the state’s request for a separate sentencing
proceeding, Hanley outlined aggravating circumstances the state
will rely on to argue for the death penalty if Kahler is convicted.
She said that with respect to the murders, the defendant knowingly
or purposely killed more than one person and he committed the crime
in an especially heinous, atrocious or cruel manner. She said there
were no known circumstances to mitigate a death sentence. The state
also reserved the right to amend the list of aggravating and mitigating
Also at Monday’s hearing, a pretrial conference was set for
July 12; motion dates were set for May 17 and June 16.