TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An 89-year-old woman has died from injuries suffered in a weekend shooting in northeast Kansas that also left her granddaughter and two great-granddaughters dead, prosecutors said Wednesday.
The state attorney general's office will file a revised complaint against James Kraig Kahler, a former city official in Weatherford and in Columbia, Mo.
Kahler is charged in the shootings in Osage County, Kan., as a result of Dorothy Wight's death, spokeswoman Ashley Anstaett said.
Wight died Tuesday at a Topeka hospital. Her granddaughter Karen Kahler, the suspect's 44-year-old estranged wife, and the Kahlers' daughters, 18-year-old Emily and 16-year-old Lauren, were killed Saturday at Wight's home outside Burlington.
The couple's 10-year-old son, Sean, also was at the home but was not injured. An attorney who represented his mother said Wednesday that the boy is staying with family in Wichita.
Attorney General Steve Six's office filed a capital murder charge Monday in Osage County District Court against James Kahler, who often went by Kraig, covering the deaths of his wife and daughters. Kansas law allows one capital charge — and the death penalty — for multiple killings arising from a single "scheme or course of conduct."
Six's office filed three alternative charges of premeditated first-degree murder against Kahler in case he isn't convicted on the capital charge.
Kahler also was charged with one count of attempted first-degree murder in Wight's shooting and one count of aggravated burglary. Authorities believe he broke into her home.
The attorney general's office declined to release the affidavit supporting its complaint, which contains details about the alleged crimes. It was filed under seal in court.
The office probably will revise the complaint so Wight's death is covered by the capital murder charge, Anstaett said. It also is likely to drop the attempted murder charge and file a fourth alternative count of first-degree murder.
Kahler made his first court appearance Monday. An attorney from the state's death penalty defense unit in Topeka who was appointed to represent him did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday.
The next hearing is scheduled for Dec. 10.
Kahler also was facing a domestic assault charge in Columbia stemming from an altercation with his wife in March. His wife had filed for divorce, and a settlement hearing had been set for Friday.
Dan Pingelton, an attorney representing Karen Kahler in the divorce case, said there are still issues about how to handle the couple's assets.
"Mr. Kahler had a considerable amount of assets, and I want to make sure that those remain available to Sean and nobody else," Pingelton said.
But Gary Stamper, Kraig Kahler's attorney in the divorce case, said he doesn't expect the settlement hearing to go forward. He declined further comment, noting that he's bound by professional ethics not to disclose private information about his client.
He added: "There's nothing I could say that could assuage the grief of either family."
Pingelton said the Sedgwick County district attorney's office and the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services are working on finding a home for the boy with relatives. SRS spokeswoman Michelle Ponce declined to comment, noting Kansas law prohibits the agency from discussing child welfare cases publicly.
Kahler previously was the director of Columbia's Water & Light Department and, with a $150,000 salary, the city's highest-paid employee. He and his family had moved to Missouri from Parker County, Texas, in July 2008, after he'd been utilities director for the city of Weatherford for nine years.
Kahler was asked to resign in September from his Columbia post after a friend of his wife told three City Council members that she feared for his wife's safety.
Court records show that Kahler moved to Meriden, Kan., by late October.
The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Kahler is a graduate of Meriden's high school and that his father still lives there. The newspaper said Karen Kahler graduated from a Wichita high school.