U.S. Supreme Court to hear Kahler death penalty appeal

The Kansas Attorney General’s Office reported today that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of James Kraig Kahler. An Osage County jury convicted Kahler of killing his two teenage daughters, his wife, and her grandmother at Burlingame, Kan., in 2009, and recommended he be sentenced to death.

The Kansas Supreme Court affirmed Kahler’s conviction and death sentence in February 2018. Today the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Kahler’s appeal from the Kansas Supreme Court decision.

In his appeal to the Kansas Supreme Court, Kahler raised 10 issues, including allegations of misconduct by the prosecutor and trial judge, challenges to the instructions given to the jury, and an argument the death penalty is unconstitutional when applied to a person who has a severe mental illness at the time he or she committed a crime.

None of Kahler’s arguments convinced the majority of the court to overturn his convictions or death sentence, and the court affirmed Kahler’s jury trial convictions of aggravated burglary and capital murder for fatally shooting his wife, Karen Kahler, her grandmother, Dorothy Wight, and his two teenage daughters, Emily and Lauren. The crimes occurred Nov. 28, 2009, at Wight’s home at Burlingame.

Kahler was sentenced to death by Osage County District Court Judge Phillip Fromme in October 2011.

The U.S. Supreme Court case, James K. Kahler v. Kansas, No. 18-6135, is expected to be scheduled for oral argument in the fall.

See related story: Kansas Supreme Court denies Kahler’s appeal of death sentence

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