Trial scheduled in murder case

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times
Cody Huninghake

A trial has been scheduled for a rural Leavenworth man who is accused of murdering his teenage half brother.

The trial for Cody S. Huninghake is scheduled for Jan. 31 in Leavenworth County District Court.

"Looking at the trial schedule, I don't believe we can get this in before the first of the year," District Judge Gerald Kuckelman said.

Kuckelman selected the trial date Wednesday following a preliminary hearing and arraignment in the case.

Huninghake, 25, is charged with first-degree murder. He is accused of shooting Robert Nelson, 17, July 3 at a residence on Ottawa Street outside of the Leavenworth city limits.

Assistant County Attorney Christopher Lyon called several witnesses to testify during Wednesday's preliminary hearing.

One witnesses was Damon Huninghake, father of the defendant.

Damon Huninghake testified the defendant lived at his home and Nelson stayed at the residence a few nights each week.

Damon Huninghake said he was at a family barbecue near Basehor July 3 when he received a call from Cody Huninghake.

"He just asked me if I would come home," Damon Huninghake said.

The witness said his son seemed upset on the phone and was crying.

Damon Huninghake said he was worried and left the barbecue to head home.

When he arrived home, Cody Huninghake came outside and appeared to be upset and crying, according to the testimony.

"I asked Cody a few questions, and he never responded," Damon Huninghake said.

The witness testified that he did not go into the house but looked through window. He saw Nelson's body.

"He looked asleep," Damon Huninghake said.

The witness said blood coming from Nelson's ear was the only sign that he was hurt.

Kyle Harriss, who has a family connection to the defendant through marriage, also testified.

Harriss said he was hosting the July 3 barbecue and heard Damon Huninghake's telephone conversation with his son. Harriss said Damon Huninghake's phone was placed on a speaker phone setting.

"Cody was hysterical, and it sounded like he was crying," Harriss said.

Harriss testified that Cody Huninghake said on the phone, "Dad I'm sorry."

Harriss said he was concerned after Damon Huninghake left the barbecue. Harriss said he left to go to Huninghake's residence a short time later.

After Harriss arrived, Damon Huninghake said, "I'm going to lose both my sons," according to the testimony.

Harriss, who works as a police officer in Olathe, said he went into the home to check on Nelson. The witness said Nelson showed no signs of life.

Detective Ari Ailin of the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office testified that Nelson's body was found in a chair.

Ailin, who attended the autopsy of Nelson, said the victim had been shot in the back of the head with a shotgun.

Ailin said an autopsy report listed the manner of death as a homicide.

Cpl. Detective Megan Mance of the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office testified that after the shooting she observed a shotgun inside a case on the bed of Damon Huninghake's bedroom.

Damon Huninghake testified he kept the shotgun in his closet. He said it had been a while since he last saw the shotgun. He said he did not see the gun on the bed the day of the shooting.

Following the preliminary hearing, Kuckelman ruled there was sufficient evidence to bind the case over.

Cody Huninghake's attorney, James Floyd, asked to proceed with the arraignment of his client. A not guilty plea was entered.

Kuckelman then scheduled the trial.

Huninghake remains in custody at the Leavenworth County Jail.

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