Kahler sentenced to death for quadruple murder in Burlingame
James Kahler is escorted to the Osage County Jail following a court appearance in 2011. Photo by Wayne White.
The Kansas Supreme Court has announced it will hear oral arguments in the appeal of the death penalty conviction of James K. Kahler. Kahler was convicted by an Osage County jury in 2011 for killing his two daughters, his wife and her grandmother at Burlingame in 2009.
Oral arguments before the Kansas Supreme Court will be heard at 9 a.m. Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, with each side allotted 60 minutes. The case is Appeal No. 106,981: State of Kansas v. James K. Kahler.
Following a two-week trial in August 2011, the Osage County jury convicted Kahler, now 53, of killing his wife, Karen Kahler, 44, his daughters, Emily, 18, and Lauren, 16, and Karen’s grandmother, Dorothy Wight, 89, in Wight’s Burlingame home on Nov. 28, 2009. In addition to capital murder, Kahler was convicted of four counts of first-degree murder and one count of aggravated burglary. During sentencing, Osage County District Judge Phillip Fromme concurred with the jury’s recommendation and sentenced Kahler to death.
According to the Kansas Supreme Court announcement, Kahler, who is incarcerated in the El Dorado Correctional Facility, has raised 10 issues on appeal. Seven issues assert pre-trial and guilt-phase errors, and the remaining three issues attack Kahler’s death sentence. The issues of the appeal include:
- Did the prosecutor commit reversible misconduct during defense counsel’s closing argument?
- Did the district court’s comments during trial deny Kahler a fair trial?
- Did the district court err in denying a jury instruction on the defense expert’s testimony?
- Did the district court err in limiting the jury’s consideration of the evidence of mental disease or defect?
- Did the district court err in failing to instruct on felony murder?
- Did the district court err in prohibiting defense counsel from questioning prospective jurors about the death penalty?
- Did cumulative error deny Kahler a fair trial?
- Is the Kansas death penalty categorically disproportionate punishment?
- Did the two aggravating factors submitted by the State properly channel jury discretion?
- Was there sufficient evidence that the killings were committed in a heinous, atrocious, and cruel manner?
The appeal will be heard in the Kansas Supreme Court courtroom at the Kansas Judicial Center, in Topeka.