State Supreme Court upholds death penalty in murder case

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 The Kansas Supreme Court today upheld the capital murder conviction and death sentence of James Kahler in the 2009 killings of his wife, two daughters and wife’s grandmother.

James Kraig Kahler was convicted of capital murder  in August, 2011 in connection with the  murders of his wife, Karen Kahler, their two teenage daughters, Emily and Lauren, and Karen Kahler’s grandmother, Dorothy Wight, in Burlingame. Kahler was sentenced to death by Chief District Court Judge Phillip Fromme in October, 2011.

Kahler raised 10 issues on appeal, including allegations of misconduct by the prosecutor and trial judge, challenges to the instructions given to the jury, and an argument the death penalty is unconstitutional when applied to a person who has a severe mental illness at the time he or she committed a crime. None of Kahler's arguments convinced the majority of the court to overturn his convictions or death sentence. 

Kahler becomes the fifth person in Kansas whose sentence of death has been upheld by the Kansas Supreme Court since the death penalty was reinstated. The other four are Scott Cheever, John Robinson, Gary Kleypas and Sydney Gleason. Ten people currently are under sentence of death in Kansas.

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