Basehor man pleads not guilty to manslaughter

Defense attorney says plea deal may be reached

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times
Christopher D. Nichols Jr.

A Basehor man has pleaded not guilty to a manslaughter charge in connection to a 2019 crash. But a defense attorney indicated the case may be resolved with a plea agreement.

Christopher D. Nichols Jr., 23, waived a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Leavenworth County District Court. Nichols' attorney, Lindsey Erickson, asked for the case to proceed immediately to the arraignment phase, and a not guilty plea was entered.

Nichols is charged with involuntary manslaughter and failing to stop and remain at the scene of an accident that resulted in a death.

The charges stem from an October 2019 crash south of Basehor that resulted in the death of Keegan Gore.

Leavenworth County Sheriff Andy Dedeke said at the time of the crash that Gore had been a passenger in a Jeep Wrangler that rolled over several times on 158th Street near Kansas Avenue. Gore was ejected from the vehicle during the crash. He died at the scene.

The driver allegedly ran away from the scene.

An obituary for Gore stated he died after celebrating his 22nd birthday with friends.

With the involuntary manslaughter charge, Nichols is accused of unintentionally killing Gore in a reckless manner. Prosecutors also have filed a charge of involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which can be considered as an alternative to the other manslaughter charge.

Erickson said Wednesday that the defense and prosecution have been negotiating a possible resolution in the case.

"And I think we're making some progress," she said.

She said her client waived a preliminary hearing in his case so the plea negotiations can continue.

Following the arraignment, Erickson asked District Judge Gerald Kuckelman to schedule a hearing in about 60 days, which will allow additional time for plea negotiations.

Kuckelman scheduled a status hearing for Oct. 13.

"If there's a resolution, we will enter a plea," the judge said. "If not, we will set a jury trial."

Nichols remains free on bond.

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