Kansas v. Kahler capital murder appeal goes before US Supreme Court Featured

James Kraig Kahler. James Kraig Kahler. Kansas Department of Corrections photos

The United States Supreme Court has heard arguments in a quadruple-murder case from Osage County.


Justices heard the case of Kansas v. James Kraig Kahler on Monday. Kahler was convicted of capital murder in 2011 after killing his wife, two daughters and his wife's grandmother in Burlingame in November 2009. Kahler has not argued killing his family members, but he says state law did not let him assert an insanity defense and that prevention was unconstitutional. This followed a state law that eliminates the insanity defense as a whole, instead letting jury members consider evidence of a person's mental state only as a baseline as whether the person had the requisite mental state for the crime.

Last year, the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed both the conviction and resulting death penalty sentence in Kahler's case. The US Supreme Court has granted Kahler's request to have that decision reviewed.

If the Supreme Court sides with the state, Kahler will stay on death row. If it agrees with Kahler, the case may well have to start over using new guidelines on insanity defense.

There is currently no timetable for a decision.

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