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Amended charge is filed in murder case

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Murder defendant Stathis Kirkpatrick is led from the courthouse to a waiting vehicle for transport back to the Phelps County jail in Holdrege.
(Bruce Baker/McCook Daily Gazette)
McCOOK, Nebraska -- Additional evidence has been received in the case against 20-year-old Stathis Kirkpatrick of Bartley, accused of killing 14-year-old Kailee Nichole Clapp of McCook, that indicates there was also a sexual assault involved.

Special Red Willow County prosecutor Corey O'Brien said during a motions hearing Tuesday morning in Red Willow County District Court that the original underlying crime of the first degree murder charge filed against Kirkpatrick was kidnapping and additional evidence had been received to indicate it was sexual assault in the first degree.

Defense attorneys for Kirkpatrick did not object to the prosecution's filing of the amended information.

The hearing focused on evidence submitted in support of four motions filed, including a motion to suppress certain evidence, as well as another to suppress statements Kirkpatrick made to law enforcement officers filed by the defense. The prosecution had filed a motion to offer additional evidence and another to file the amended information pertaining to the first degree sexual assault.

The majority of the 13 witnesses called to testify during the hearing were law enforcement officers, from the McCook Police Department, Red Willow County Sheriff's Department and also staff from the Phelps County Jail where Kirkpatrick has spent time since being in custody.

One of the two Phelps county jailers who testified said Kirkpatrick became visibly upset when he learned that information would be coming out that he had sex with someone the night of Clapp's homicide and was concerned his McCook girlfriend would find out.

Despite the jailer stating Kirkpatrick was upset previously, he did not seem concerned during Tuesday's motion hearing, grinning at many of the witnesses during testimony and even flashing a thumbs up and a smile to family members seated in the court room at one point.

As unconcerned and confident as Kirkpatrick seemed during the motions hearing, he wanted nothing to do with having his picture taken by a Gazette reporter as he was being loaded into a Red Willow County Sheriff's vehicle after the hearing, hopping backwards on shackled feet into the vehicle to avoid showing his face.

Among the three individuals who were called, who were not law enforcement officers, was a McCook couple that testified about an incident involving Kirkpatrick flicking a knife out in a manner they believed to be threatening to them, before being told by his girlfriend to put it away as the two couples walked into Walmart. Kirkpatrick has been charged with using a knife to commit a felony in the Kailee Clapp case.

The third was a 16-year-old Indianola girl who testified that Kirkpatrick sent her text messages inviting her to hang out with him and do Ecstacy, between 2:30 and 3:30 a.m. on Jan. 21, the same day Kirkpatrick is accused of killing Kailee Clapp.

After hearing the testimony and being presented with multiple video and audio recordings, Red Willow County District Court Judge David Urbom set deadlines for written arguments in support of the motions for both the prosecution and defense. The defense has until May 4 and the prosecution has until May 18, to submit their written arguments.

A phone conference was also scheduled for May 16 at 3 p.m., in the case.

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