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Kansas Supreme Court won't review suppression of defendant's statements in Kansas murder case

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HUTCHINSON, Kansas — The Kansas Supreme Court won't review a lower court ruling that suppressed a suspect's statements about a Hutchinson woman's death.

The court's Friday ruling denying a petition of review by Reno County District Attorney Keith Schroeder likely means Billy Joe Craig's will go to trial early next year, the Hutchinson News (http://bit.ly/1vDQv6i ) reported.

Reno County Judge Tim Chambers said the district court has about 90 days after receiving a state Supreme Court ruling to schedule a trial. He said he thinks the trial might be set sometime in January.

"I'll get with counsel and see what time they can agree on," Chambers said.

Prosecutors say Craig and two other men shot 27-year-old Jennifer Heckel to death at her Hutchinson home in June 2011 while her 5-year-old son was in another room. They allege the men intended to rob a drug dealer but went to the wrong house.

The high court's ruling means some statements Craig made to police will not be heard at trial.

Craig is charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder or aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, criminal possession of a firearm and aggravated intimidation of a witness in the case.

A message seeking comment was left Tuesday with Craig's attorney.

Chambers ruled in September 2013 that some statements Craig gave to police during interviews between July and August 2011 weren't voluntary, but compelled by a variety of factors including being jailed 23 hours a day for weeks when he had a methamphetamine addiction.

Chambers blocked those statements, which included Craig saying he drove the other two men to Heckel's home. The Kansas Court of Appeals in April agreed with Chambers' ruling. Schroeder then asked the state's Supreme Court to review the case.

"I did hope they would grant the petition," Schroeder said. "The ruling paved the way for him to go to trial without those statements. I assume (the case) will be docketed and then we'll have pretrial and place it before a jury."

In December 2012, a jury convicted Christopher Logsdon in Heckel's death. Prosecutors have not charged the second man who went to Heckel's home.


Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, http://www.hutchnews.com

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