In the first case arising out of a sex-sting operation conducted in October 2011, a jury has found a Wichita man not guilty of any crime.
Kyle Miller was acquitted Wednesday in Sedgwick County District Court.
“It was obvious from the evidence, as is the risk in all sting operations, that an innocent man was entrapped in a government net that had simply been cast too wide,” said Trevor Riddle, Miller’s defense attorney.
In the sting, an undercover officer posed as an under-aged teen online. Police say they organized the special operation in response to an increase in human trafficking. Seven men were arrested, including Miller and popular Garden Plain football coach Todd Puetz.
Police were confident in the arrests. “In my mind, I believe these are good solid cases,” Captain Brent Allred said just days after the sting. But with Miller’s acquittal, now two of the seven men arrested in that sting are cleared. Charges against Reginald (Reggie) Shepard were dismissed at his preliminary hearing in January 2012.
In a press release to the media, Miller’s defense attorney suggested his client’s case showed how local, state, and federal investigators mishandled the sting.
“It was obvious from the evidence that the sting was operated carelessly, creating a great risk that innocent people like Kyle would be entrapped,” Riddle said.
Police, at the time of the sting, said the sting was uncharted territory. “We had never done one before so we had to put a lot of brain power in and hope that everything went smoothly,” Allred told reporters in 2011.
Lt. Doug Nolte says the Wichita Police Department will not comment on the sting or the court decisions right now because there are five other cases still pending. Todd Puetz is the next to have a jury trial. His trial is scheduled to begin in early April.
KAKE TV – By Jason Tarr