Wichita police looking for the BTK serial killer illegally searched a man’s home last month, one of the man’s lawyers contends. Police didn’t have to rush into Roger Valadez’s home with guns drawn to get a DNA swab from him, lawyer Dan Monnat said Tuesday. “I don’t think you can lawfully kick down a citizen’s door to execute a warrant for a mouth swab for DNA the day you get the warrant,” Monnat said. “There’s no emergency. The DNA is not going to disappear.”

Valadez should never have been considered a suspect in the serial killings, he and his lawyers say. Three days after his Dec. 1 arrest on misdemeanor housing code and trespassing charges – which were dismissed or resolved Tuesday — police said they had excluded him from the BTK investigation. Monnat has said that DNA testing cleared Valadez.

Told of the lawyers’ comments, Police Chief Norman Williams said: “If a person feels their Fourth Amendment right has been violated, they have the court venue.”This is a very complex, intense investigation,” Williams said of renewed efforts to catch BTK, who has eluded capture since 1974. Still, Williams said, “we do not allow ourselves to get caught up in an investigation to the point that we are not mindful of what is expected….which is to work within that Constitution.”

Police arrested Valadez, 64, and took him to jail on misdemeanor warrants brought as a “pretext” to search his house, Monnat said. He said police did not show Valadez a search warrant that night.

Craig Shultz, another lawyer representing Valadez, said his client is exploring possible legal action against the city. Monnat said police acted with unnecessary haste.”There is no doubt that if they had waited,” he said, Valadez would have answered his door and police could have executed the warrant for his DNA “without all the endangerment that occurred by kicking in his door at night.”

Officers rushed into Valadez’s home about 7 p.m. According to copies of search warrants, Monnat said, the warrant for Valadez’s DNA was issued at 2:47 p.m. the day of his arrest. The warrant to search his house was issued at 10:34 p.m., about three hours after police took control of the home.

Kim Parker, chief deputy district attorney for Sedgwick County, said police do not have to show a citizen a search warrant before conducting a search but have to leave a copy on the premises.

Because the probable-cause affidavit has been put under court seal, Monnat said, he and Valadez haven’t been able to learn why police searched Valadez’s home and took his DNA. Police have said they were following up on a tip to their BTK hotline when they went to the home. Monnat said he and Valadez would like to see the document “because neither of us believe there was a sufficient factual basis to justify the degree of home invasion and media frenzy that occurred.”

On Monday, Valadez sued the parent companies of three media organizations, alleging they invaded his privacy and defamed him. In an interview Monday, Valadez said he wanted The Eagle to identify him so he could clear his name. Parker said probable-cause affidavits remain closed because of public safety issues. “Everything in the legal system is a balancing act,” she said. “We balance the public greater interests in safety….against an individual’s constitutional right.”

Meanwhile, a municipal judge Tuesday granted Monnat’s motion to dismiss the misdemeanor trespassing warrant against Valadez. Monnat contended that police executed the misdemeanor warrants in an unreasonable or untimely way.

To resolve a housing code charge, Monnat said, Valadez agreed to paint the eaves on a rental house and pay a $10 fine.

All content © 2005 THE WICHITA EAGLE and may not be republished without permission.

The Wichita Eagle – By Tim Potter and Ron Sylvester

The lead investigator in the BTK serial murder case confirmed Saturday that a man arrested last week following a BTK-related tip is no longer a subject of the investigation. Wichita police Lt. Ken Landwehr said the man, whom The Eagle has not named, has been “excluded from my investigation.” Landwehr would not say why the man was no longer a subject of the BTK investigation.

But Dan Monnat, the lawyer representing the man, said Saturday: “Our question to Lt. Landwehr was whether or not DNA testing had excluded our client as a suspect in the BTK investigation. His answer clearly indicated to us that DNA testing had excluded our client.” Authorities obtained a DNA sample from the man using a mouth swab “against his will,” Monnat said, declining to elaborate. Monnat also said his law firm hasn’t confirmed whether the swab was taken before or after the issuance of a search warrant.

Told of Monnat’s assertions, Landwehr would not comment. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation, which said Thursday it put a priority on testing the man’s DNA, could not be reached Saturday to discuss the test results. KBI spokesman Kyle Smith on Friday declined to say any more about the BTK investigation.

Wichita police arrested the man Wednesday night on outstanding misdemeanor warrants after conducting a daylong, undercover surveillance of his home that was monitored at times by homicide detectives, including some who have worked on the BTK case. Besides taking a DNA sample, authorities, including KBI agents, seized items from the man’s house.

Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams emphasized Thursday that the man had not been arrested in connection with the BTK case. Williams said police were only following up on a BTK-investigation tip involving the man and had no choice but to arrest him when they discovered he had outstanding warrants, one dating back about nine years.

The misdemeanor charges against the man allege housing-code violations at a rental property and involve a domestic-violence trespassing case. Monnat said the misdemeanor cases are pending. The man, who had been held on a bond that was reduced to $6,125, was released from jail Thursday. His arrest and the unusual circumstances surrounding it drew national media coverage.

The BTK case has haunted Wichita since 1974, when the killer bound and strangled four members of the Otero family, including two young children, in their home.

BTK — which he has said stands for bind, torture, kill — has claimed at least eight victims in Wichita. He became a household name again, after 25 years of silence, when in March he mailed a letter to The Eagle linking himself to the killing of Vicki Wegerle in her home in 1986.

In a statement Friday night that Monnat said was approved by his client, Monnat said: “We don’t believe his name ever should have been connected to the BTK investigation….” Monnat said his law firm is investigating how the man, who is 64 according to most public records, became the subject of a BTK-related tip.

The statement also said: “More than anything, the inaccurate linking of this man to the BTK investigation illustrates that, in our understandable haste to catch BTK, we must not leap to conclusions that trample the rights and lives of innocent people.”

Monnat said his client appreciates that police and some media didn’t release his name. Still, because of the attention, “he’s been unable to return to his home because of the risk of curious onlookers or crackpot vigilantism.” Monnat said he has been told that some, if not all, of the items authorities seized from the man’s home have been returned. The man hasn’t yet been able to completely confirm what has been returned, Monnat said.

“He’s anxious to get back home and resume a normal life.”

All content © 2004 THE WICHITA EAGLE and may not be republished without permission.

The Wichita Eagle – By Tim Potter

National exposure of Wichita’s BTK serial murder case could be key to solving it, a Wichita State University professor said. The case drew a new infusion of national media attention Thursday after word spread that Wichita police, acting on a BTK-investigation tip, arrested a man on outstanding misdemeanor warrants.

What made the situation unusual is that police put the man’s south Wichita house under daylong surveillance Wednesday, the Kansas Bureau Investigation tested DNA taken using a search warrant and homicide detectives were involved. Police noted that the man was arrested only on the outstanding warrants — not in connection with the BTK case. He was released on a relatively small bond.

Late Friday, Wichita lawyer Dan Monnat released a statement saying that the man who was arrested “is not BTK.”

“The WPD has now confirmed that DNA testing has excluded him as a suspect in the BTK investigation,” Monnat’s statement reads. When contacted Friday night, Monnat said his office was notified by Lt. Ken Landwehr about the DNA results.

Wichita police spokeswoman Janet Johnson would not comment on Monnat’s statement. It is department policy, she said, not to discuss the results of forensic testing such as DNA analysis. Still, the developments drew national media. Network TV satellite trucks lined up outside Wichita City Hall. Police received calls from papers across the country, including the New York Times.

The wider exposure should help increase the chances of drawing a key tip, said Brian Withrow, an assistant professor of criminal justice at WSU and a former Texas State Police inspector. On Tuesday, Wichita police released information about BTK’s background, details they say the killer has claimed to be true in letters he has written.

The information released by police doesn’t say whether the killer claims to be from Wichita or Kansas. However, “based upon the investigation to date,” police said they think that BTK frequented the WSU campus in the early 1970s and that he was acquainted with a professor there. He claimed at least eight victims in Wichita from 1974 to 1986.

If BTK is from another state, the national exposure could help, Withrow said. The exposure also could bring the information released by police to the attention of someone who knew BTK years ago but moved from Kansas and lost touch with the case, he said.

“It’s almost always better to spread that information out as far as you can, particularly as transient as our culture is,” he said. It takes only one tip to solve the mystery. “Big, big cases have been broken on little-bitty tips,” Withrow said. “It happens every day.”

All content © 2004 THE WICHITA EAGLE and may not be republished without permission.

The Wichita Eagle – By Tim Potter

A federal judge in Wichita has sided with lawyers who claim it is unethical to comply with an Internal Revenue Service regulation that requires them to identify clients who pay fees in large sums of cash.

Chief U.S. District Judge Patrick Kelly has issued an order suspending IRS attempts to force Daniel Monnat, a Wichita criminal defense lawyer, to comply. Monnat had reported receiving $16,000 in cash as a fee, but he refused to provide the person’s name, address and Social Security number.

Kelly acknowledged that some circuits of the U.S. Court of Appeals have upheld the requirement. But he said the rulings “fly in the face of what an attorney’s role is all about.”

January 14, 2004

David Dreier may avoid a prison sentence for the beating of Chris Brannan, who suffered a permanent brain injury.

In a rare courthouse move, the ranking Sedgwick County District Court Judge has removed another judge from a pending criminal case because of accusations of bias.
Judge Rebecca Pilshaw, the judge removed from the case, was never shy about her belief that David Dreier deserved more than probation for the attack on a college student from Wichita’s Vickridge neighborhood.
“He went there to fight, she said during the first half of Dreier’s sentencing hearing earlier this month. “He threw the first punch. He enjoyed the fight.”
The changing of the judges is the latest twist in the story of Chris Brannan, a 20-year-old college student who suffered a profound brain injury after being beaten and stabbed in Wichita’s affluent Vickridge neighborhood in August 1997.
The street brawl sparked by party crashers left Brannan unable to walk and needing full-time care.
The removal of Pilshaw midway through the sentencing of David Dreier – one of four people convicted in the attack – is a blow to the victim’s family, they said. Pilshaw was outspoken in her intent to send Dreier, 20, to prison, a position the family supported.
“We felt judge Pilshaw had conducted a very fair trial, and we are very disappointed they have seen fit to replace her,” said Jim Robinson, Chris Brannan’s grandfather.
Pilshaw’s removal was not the first unexpected twist in the case. That came when Dreier, the son of a minister and captain of his Hesston high school wrestling team, changed attorneys after his trial.
After being convicted by a jury of aggravated battery last year, Dreier let his public defender go and hired prominent criminal defense attorney Daniel Monnat specifically for his sentencing, which was scheduled to take place earlier this month.
Monnat hoped to spare Dreier from prison. Monnat argued that Dreier should not be imprisoned because of severe – even life-threatening – diabetes that cannot be managed well behind bars.
During the first half of Dreier’s sentencing hearing on March 8, Monnat called several witnesses, including the defendant’s coaches, teachers and his parents. Monnat hoped to portray Dreier as a good kid struggling with diabetes who made a mistake one night after drinking.
But halfway through the two-day hearing, Monnat filed a motion with Administrative Judge Paul Buchanan to change judges.
According to the motion, Pilshaw told Monnat that Dreier had “received all the breaks that he ever was going to get,” and that Monnat “had a certain amount of magic, but not enough to keep Mr. Dreier from going to jail.”
Monnat argued that those comments, and her efforts to put Dreier in jail despite his medical condition, showed she could not be impartial.
Pilshaw, a former prosecutor and experienced criminal trial judge who is known to speak her mind inside and outside the courtroom, refused to comment on her removal.
Before the sentencing hearing could resume on its second day, Buchanan reassigned the case to Judge Paul Clark, who is now scheduled to sentence Dreier on March 25.
Monnat and Buchanan refused to comment on the case.
“I changed the judge on the case pursuant to my authority (as administrative judge),” Buchanan said. “I am not going to comment on what another judge does.”
Stan Brannan, Chris Brannan’s father, said Monnat successfully changed the focus of the case from the victim to the criminal.
“It is kind of sickening to be worried about this guy’s diabetes when no one is worried about my son who suffered a severe brain injury,” he said.
“That is a tough deal for a victim’s family to understand. (Dreier) is a very serious threat to society.”
According to police and court records, Dreier was among several young men who went to Vickridge on Aug. 8, 1997, looking for a fight.
Afterward, Dreier told police he pummeled Chris Brannan until his face was “mush” and continued until Brannan was unconscious.

By Robert Short

Marcus Shanklin, 20, was charged with killing LaDon Boyd.

Marcus Shanklin – facing life behind bars for a first-degree murder charge – on Thursday heard the news that gave him a start at a new life with his “Big Brother.”
After nearly 16 hours of deliberations over three days, a Sedgwick County jury acquitted Shanklin, 20, of murder and three other charges: aggravated battery, aggravated assault and firing into an occupied vehicle.
The charges stemmed from a Jan. 17 drive-by shooting near 13th and Estelle that killed LaDon Boyd, 22, and left Antoine Christen, 17, without a right eye. Prosecutors said the shooting was gang-related.
As the not-guilty verdicts were read, Shanklin looked straight ahead as one of his attorneys, Dan Monnat, patted him on the back. Family members and friends of Shanklin wept and let out sighs.
Boyd’s family didn’t attend the trial.
Perhaps no one was as relieved by the verdict as Steve Long, who was matched for several years with Shanklin through the Sedgwick County Big Brothers and Big Sister program and came from Tennessee to watch the trail.
“There was never a question in our mind that he had nothing to do with it,” Long said after the verdict.
Long was Shanklin’s Big Brother from 1990 until Long moved to Indiana in 1993. The two built such a strong relationship that Shanklin would spend weeks at a time with Long, his wife, Denise, and their children.
When the Longs found out Shanklin had been arrested, they immediately offered assistance – both emotionally and financially.
“We didn’t want to take the chance that he didn’t get the absolute best,” Steve Long said. The Longs took out a loan and asked Monnat and Sal Intagliata to defend Shanklin.
According to testimony, the shooting erupted after a brief gang confrontation at a convenience store. As the cars were driven on 13rh Street, shots were fired.
Immediately after the shooting, Christon identified the gunman by a nickname and description that matched Shanklin. But by the preliminary hearing in March and during the trial, Christon testified that he couldn’t remember who fired at him.
Assistant District Attorney Kevin O’Connor said Christon’s change wasn’t a surprise because he had expressed concern that he would be the target of retaliation. “It’s not unusual that this happens in a gang-related case.”
Jurors said Christon’s inability to identify Shanklin and the lack of physical evidence were crucial in their verdict.
“Most of us probably had a gut feeling that he was guilty,” juror Delbert White said. “But there wasn’t enough evidence.”
Shanklin said he appreciated the support he received.
“It makes me feel real good that I got people that really love me, that don’t want to see me go down for something I didn’t do,” he said.
With his acquittal, Shanklin will start a new life. He will move to Tennessee with the Longs and their three sons, ages 9, 8 and 5.
“Marcus,” Steve Long said, “is part of our family.”

By Joe Rodriguez

Judge Monti Belot did, however, deny acquittal on her convictions on filing false statements on tax returns.

A federal judge on Wednesday granted acquittal for Anita Guidry on 10 charges a jury deadlocked on earlier this week.
In the ruling, Judge Monti Belot refused to acquit her on the three charges of filing false statements on tax returns that she was convicted of.
The ruling essentially means that Guidry, 50, cannot be retired on the 10 bank fraud and money laundering charges. The jury deadlocked on those charges on Monday after about eight hours of deliberations.
“It’s what I expected based on the law,” said Guidry’s attorney, Dan Monnat. “It’s an absolutely correct legal decision on the money laundering and bank fraud counts.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Deb Barnett, the prosecutor, did not return a call seeking comment.
The charges against Guidry stem from the allegation that she embezzled $2.7 million between 1992 and 1997 from Wichita Sheet Metal Inc. while working as the company’s controller.
Prosecutors said she spent more than $1 million of the money on clothes.
Monnat said during his closing argument on Friday that Guidry was wrong to take the money, but her actions were not bank fraud, and if she was not convicted of bank fraud, she could not be convicted of money laundering.
However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Deb Barnett said Guidry did defraud the bank when she wrote herself 289 company checks and pretended the money was being used to pay the company’s federal income taxes.
For Guidry to be convicted of bank fraud, prosecutors had to prove that the banks she took money from lost money, were put at risk of potential monetary loss or were put at risk of civil liability.
“At trial, witnesses from the bank testified that the bank suffered no loss,” the ruling stated. “The government produced no contrary evidence. Additionally, there was no evidence the bank could have suffered a loss.” And during the trial, the president of Wichita Sheet Metal testified that she had not yet sued the bank but was considering it.
As for the money laundering charges, the ruling stated: “Because bank fraud is a necessary predicate to the money laundering charges, the court must grant acquittal on those counts as well.”
The charges of filing false statements on tax returns stem from Guidry’s failure to report the income to the IRS while filling out her family’s income tax forms, prosecutors said.
Monnat had said Guidry was unaware she had a duty to report the money on her tax returns.
But the ruling stated that Guidry – an accounting major – was aware the income needed to be reported.
No sentencing date has been set on the tax convictions.

By Joe Rodrigues

Grand jury refuses to charge local sellers of Jock Sturges’ photo book of nude children

A grand jury has declined to indict local bookstores for selling Jock Sturges’ photography books of nude children in provocative poses.
The decision disappointed members of the Kansas Family Research Institute, a Christian group that had spent two years protesting the books as a form of child abuse. The institute had collected enough signatures on petitions to require that a grand jury be convened.
The 15 grand jurors reached their conclusion last week in a closed proceeding. Their decision was made public Friday.
The institute or anyone else may collect enough signatures to impanel another grand jury, but, for now, the decision closes the case.
Kathryn Gardner, an attorney on the institute’s advisory board, said the decision won’t stop the group from educating the public about its concerns with the book, or from lobbying the state Legislature.
“Just getting a grand jury convened and getting enough signatures is a pretty good reflection of the community’s standards that they don’t like this,” Gardner said.
Members of the group launched the petition drive after District Attorney Nola Foulston decided not to prosecute. They had first complained to her in April 1996.
The issue for group members is not whether pornography is art. They perceive the black-and-white photos of nude children, some with their genitals exposed, as child abuse and had hoped Sedgwick County would join grand juries in Tennessee and Alabama that handed down indictments.
Sturges, in a statement issued Friday though his Wichita attorney, Dan Monnat, thanked the grand jury for its “high-minded insistence upon freedom of expression and refusal to become involved in a modern-day witch hunt.”
He said his purpose is humanistic, and he does not take or publish children’s pictures without their parents’ consent.
Foulston said Friday that the nudity in Sturges’ photographs is not a prosecutable offense.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has said mere nudity alone is not enough to constitute exploitation of a child and the photographs in this case were of nude people only,” she said.
“We regularly prosecute people who exhibit phots of children who are naked when those photos are exploitive under the law by showing acts of intercourse, so it is not as if this office does not prosecute those cases.”
She said the grand jury’s conclusion validates her office’s decision not to file charges.
The grand jury needed eight hours over two days to hear the evidence and reach a decision. State law prevents anyone involved in the case from discussing how the jurors voted and what evidence was presented. To issue an indictment, at least 12 jurors would have had to agree.
Jack Focht, a former assistant district attorney who has prosecuted obscenity cases, served as special prosecutor for the proceedings. Foulston hired him instead of handling the case herself to avoid charges of bias because she has said publicly that Kansas law does not apply to Sturges’ books. It was not known Friday how much the case cost taxpayers.
State Rep. Tony Powell, R-Wichita, who supported the institute’s protest against Sturges’ books, questioned whether Foulston deliberately chose an attorney sympathetic to her viewpoint.
“Jack Focht is a good guy, an excellent lawyer, but he was not someone the institute would have chosen for this case,” said Powell, an attorney. “I would not be surprised if he just showed the book and explained the law. And that’s not enough to fairly judge the case.”
The grand jury’s decision sets it apart from the grand jury actions in Alabama and Tennessee.
The Alabama indictment involves 17 counts over the sale of one of Sturges’ books. If Barnes & Noble is convicted, the company could be fined up to $10,000 on each count. As of Friday, no court date had been set in the case.
The Tennessee grand jury found that Barnes & Noble did not display the book out of the line of sight of children, as required by local law. A hearing will be held May 18.
Last fall, Wichitans protested the sale of the book at Borders Books & Music and Barnes & Noble Booksellers. The book is now sold out in Wichita.

By Lori Lessner

After dark on May 17, Wichita narcotics officers stood on the porch at 144 S. Chautauqua and yelled, “Police officers with a search warrant.”
A second or two later, the officers used a battering ram to smash through a locked door at the home of Steven Holland Gerber, 40. They seized 106 marijuana plants growing in the basement, several pounds of processed marijuana and a small amount of cocaine.
But a federal judge has ruled that none of the evidence can be used in court because police didn’t give Gerber enough time to open up. Evidence showed the suspect was headed for the door.
U.S. District Judge Sam Crow said in his ruling that a delay of only a second or two before forcibly entering the house was “unreasonable conduct by the police officers … and amounts to a violation of the defendant’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.”
The ruling came after Gerber’s attorney asked that the evidence be suppressed on grounds of an illegal search and seizure. The case, still pending, never has been tried because Crow suppressed the evidence.
U.S. Attorney Ben Burgess had no comment on the ruling and said he had not decided whether to appeal. He has until the end of October to decide.

Wichita Police Lt. Mike McKenna, public information officer, said he couldn’t comment on pending litigation.
In general, McKenna said, the supervising officer on a drug bust decides whether to break down a door. After officers knock and identify themselves, the time lapse before breaking in depends on the case, he said. Officers usually make a quick entry, he said, if they think the defendant could be armed and dangerous or could try to destroy the evidence.
“At this time, I don’t feel that there is a need for change in the police policy,” McKenna said.
In Gerber’s case, police provided no evidence that they knew the defendant had weapons or that he would try to destroy evidence, Crow said in his ruling.
Dan Monnat, who represents Gerber, called the decision wise.
“It protects both the citizen and the police,” he said. If people don’t have time to answer the door, he said, they might try to defend themselves against what they think is a break-in.
Also, Monnat said, “Just because you have a search warrant, that doesn’t give you a license to unnecessarily destroy property.”
Otto Privette, Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman in Wichita, said he was disappointed by the ruling – the first of its kind that he can recall in his 19 years in the business. The DEA was not involved in the case.
DEA agents knock and announce their presence and give the defendant a “reasonable amount of time” to answer the door before forcing entry, Privette said. The amount of time depends on the situation, he said.

By Jennifer Benjamin