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The Fort Scott Tribune FORT SCOTT, KANSAS 66701, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2013
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Inside Today Sports — Fort Scott High School soccer team beat Riverton. See story on Page 8.
By Jason E. Silvers The Fort Scott Tribune Jurors in the murder and arson trial of Brent Bollinger in the Bourbon County District Court went home late Tuesday night without reaching a verdict. They will return today at 8:45 a.m. Jurors were handed the case at 3 p.m. Tuesday after attorneys from both sides presented their cases in
What reason do you have to smile today? “Having two healthy and happy kids.” Narina Crossland, Fort Scott
RC Flyers competition taking off The Bourbon County RC Flyers radio control model airplane club will hold its 10th precision aerobatic pattern competition at 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 21 and 22 at the flying field in the southwest corner of the Fort Scott Airport. Participants from a fivestate area are expected to enter the competition. The flyers fly precision aerobatics, also known as “Pattern”, where they fly, and are judged, on a predetermined precise sequence of maneuvers. There are five classes of difficulty; Sportsman, Intermediate, Advanced, Masters, and FAI. All aerobatic maneuvers must be flown within a defined airspace box. Visitors are encouraged to attend the event Vehicle parking is available by entering the field’s south gate from Indian Rd. Refreshments are also available.
Low Vision Support Group meeting Sept. 26 The Fort Scott Low Vision Support Group will meet at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 26 at Presbyterian Village, 2401 S. Horton. The program will be by Diane Mills, RN with EagleMed. There is no charge to attend and complimentary light refreshments will be served. The public is invited. You do not need to live in Fort Scott or be visually impaired to attend. For more information call Beckye Parker with Talking Books (800) 2793219.
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Jury continues deliberations today
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closing arguments and the presiding judge issued instructions to the jury Tuesday in Bourbon County District Court. They recessed shortly after 10 p.m. Their day had begun at 10 a.m. when they were expecting to hear closing arguments. However, after the courtroom was opened at 10:35 a.m., Judge Mark Ward announced that more time was needed to prepare for those arguments and his
instructions to the jury. Court recessed until 1 p.m. The courtroom was standing-room-only in the afternoon and night. As the hours ticked away, supper was delivered to the jury room. At about 9 p.m., jurors returned to the courtroom to listen to the court recorder read Bollinger’s previous testimony, then recessed. They were escorted to their cars by officers before the public was
allowed to leave the courtroom. Brent Bollinger has been standing trial for more than a week for his alleged involvement in a deadly Oct. 13, 2011 house fire. He faces charges of murder in the first degree, premeditated or in the alternative, felony murder, aggravated arson and aggravated child endangerment. The prosecution is stating the case that Bollinger made
a deliberate decision to confront his wife, Brenna Bollinger, who died in the fire, and confront her the night of the fire about their failing marriage and relationships she had with other men. The defendant’s attorney, Paul Morrison, presented a case centered around “a rush to judgment” by authorities involved in the
See NO VERDICT on page 9
Here, let me fix your hair for you Ciara Stumfoll, left, helps a seventh grade classmate prepare for the annual student photo session at Fort Scott Middle School on Tuesday. Watching her is Meesa Robinson. School photos will be taken today at Winfield Scott Elementary School; on Sept. 25 at Eugene Ware Elementary School and Oct. 3 at Fort Scott High School. Loretta George/Tribune photo
Eight-man football staying Teen injured when By Loretta George The Fort Scott Tribune The Uniontown USD 235 Board of Education voted during a special meeting Monday to retain the high school’s football status as an eightman team. The board voted 5-2 in favor of remaining eight-man football until 2016, with Shawn Wilkinson and Matt Wood voting against the motion. Matthew Simpson, Daniel Johns, Lynne Oharah, Jason Sutterby and Doug Coyan voted for it. Several coaches and members of the football team and a parent came to the board meeting to express their opinions about the possible change back to 11-man football from the current eight-man football. The discussion was prompted by a few of the board members hearing remarks at football games. Saying people have approached him at football games, Board member Shawn Wilkinson spoke to UHS
Head Football Coach Chad Stroud, Athletic Director Jim Mason and coaches Dustin Miller and Chad Hays. “When you look on the sidelines and see that many kids standing on the sideline on the eight-man team, that’s where I think from a kid’s standpoint, three more positions on the field is not a bad option...How do you think the other kids feel?” Wilkinson asked. “Twenty-six out of 28 said they wanted to play eight-man,” Mason said. “Before we talked to any of the coaches, we went around in between passing periods talking to every kid and what they thought about it,” UHS student Cole Shaffer said. The outcome of that informal polling by the students produced 26-2 for retaining eight-man football by the student athletes.
See UHS FOOTBALL on page 9
ATV struck by pickup A Fort Scott teen was injured and two Uniontown residents were listed as possibly injured in a twovehicle ATV accident Monday evening north of Fort Scott, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol. Lute Karleskint, 13, was hurt when the 2002 Honda ATV he was driving west on Poplar Road was struck by a 2003 Chevrolet pickup driven by Natonya Beerbower, 41, of Uniontown. The accident took place about 5:15 p.m. Monday at the intersection of 215th Street and Poplar Road, about 2.6 miles north of Fort Scott, according to a KHP report. The report said Beerbower, who was headed south on 215th Street, failed to stop at a stop sign and struck the ATV. The truck then left the west side of the roadway, reentered the road and crossed over into the east ditch, shearing a telephone pole and rolling onto its top.
The ATV came to rest in the east ditch, ejecting Karleskint from the vehicle. Karleskint, who was not wearing a safety restraint or any safety equipment, was taken to Mercy Hospital Fort Scott with disabling injuries, the report said. He was treated, then transported to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., a Mercy Hospital Fort Scott spokesperson said. Beerbower, who was wearing a safety restraint, was taken to Mercy Hospital with a possible injury. An occupant of the truck, 4-year-old Jessi Lyne Beerbower, of Uniontown, was also taken to Mercy Hospital with a possible injury, the report said. They were treated and released, according to the Mercy Hospital Fort Scott spokesperson. The truck was towed from the scene. No other information was available on the ATV.
County signs paperwork for Rural Opportunity Zone By Loretta George The Fort Scott Tribune On Monday, Bourbon County Commissioners signed off on a resolution authorizing participation in a student loan repayment program to attract young people back to the county. The program is part of the Rural Opportunity Zone (ROZ), which is in Section One of Senate Bill 198. The commission obligated the county to participate in the student loan repayment program for a period of five years. The county agreed to pay $1,500 to match payments from the state to qualified individuals. “I think it’s important to note that we are going with the minimum amount (of matching money). We’ve budgeted for this for next year,” Second District Commissioner Barbara Albright said during the signing. There are no income guidelines to qualify for the
student loan repayment. All degrees and professions are eligible, and anyone who graduated from an accredited post-secondary education institution is eligible. There is a formal application process to determine eligibility for the program, which is available on the Kansas Department of Commerce website, according to ROZ information given at an earlier county commission meeting. The maximum student loan balance for each qualified individual resident to be repaid jointly by the county and the state is $15,000 over a five-year term. In an unrelated matter, the commissioners made a conference call to Dan Meara, a local attorney who assists the county on its delinquent tax sales. Albright wanted advice about who is responsible for paying a City of Fort Scott bill on property that was mowed after the property was cited for sale and before it was purchased.
“The property owners need to take their deed to the city,” Meara said. “I’ll give them a copy of the statute to take.” The statute Meara referred to is Kansas Statute 12-1617f, which reads, “If there is a change in the record owner of the title to property subsequent to the giving of notice ..., the city may not recover any costs or levy an assessment for the costs incurred by cutting or destruction of weeds on such property unless the new owner of title ...is provided notice...” In other business the commission: • Seeks to buy one-half inch chips from Nelson Quarries Inc. to finish Jayhawk Road because the Public Works Department has run out of this material. The funds will come out of sales tax money, Jim Harris, Public Works director said. • Learned that Harris is meeting with Buckley Powder Co. and also Explosive Contractors Inc. to seek for bids for blasting more rock
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at the Beth Quarry. • Heard the cemetery near 240th and Birch needs a larger culvert. • Heard Dwayne Neil completed the haying at Elm Creek Lake. • Announced that they would be speaking to Rotary at noon on Wednesday at the Presbyterian Church. Commission Chairman Allen Warren will be speaking on the pipeline in the county, Third District Commissioner Harold Coleman on the budget and Albright on roads. They will keep their comments brief to allow time for questions, Albright said. • Heard from Frank Miller, owner of Linn’s Sanitation, that Daryl Brown can’t use his account for dumping trash from now on. Warren noted that Brown would not be allowed to use the county’s dump site until he pays $2,300 from previous billings. • Announced that flu shots are available to county
residents through the Bourbon County Health Department, 221 S. Judson. • Is seeking a time when Health Department staff can provide flu vaccinations to Road and Bridge employees at the county’s barn, 1427 215th Street. On the same day, commissioners also want to speak to employees about contributing to United Way. The commission would meet with the rest of the county’s employees on the same day. The tentative date in Monday, Sept. 23. • Heard a request from Redfield City Clerk Wilma Graham to look at the city’s streets. Coleman told her that Harris would have a look at the street conditions. • Heard from Graham that ditches also need to be mowed. Warren told her the county doesn’t have enough workers to mow, but is seeking temporary employees. Applications can be picked up at the Public Works office, second floor at the courthouse.
The Fort Scott Tribune • Fort Scott, Kan.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 • Page 9
Community News No verdict Continued from Page 1
case and the fact that his client has been the only suspect in the case since the beginning of the investigation. Prosecuting attorney Kristiane Bryant of the Kansas Attorney General’s Office issued closing arguments for the prosecution. She is assisting Bourbon County Attorney Terri Johnson in the case. The following are key points in Bryant’s arguments: • That Brenna Bollinger was “strangled and burned alive” in her son’s bedroom the night of the fire. Prior to the fire, she was “at a crossroads” in her marriage with Brent Bollinger, had filed divorce papers and had “made a decision to leave for good.” • That Brent Bollinger was also “at a crossroads” and had “stewed” for a week leading up to the fire trying to decide if he could live with a planned divorce and her relationships with other men and “decided to kill her.” • The site of the fire, 2166 Grand Road, was the Bollinger’s marital home and Brenna had an interest in the house. Bryant said there is no disputing that there was a fire in the house on Oct. 13, 2011, set by gasoline, and that it originated in their son, Bryson’s, bedroom. In the fire, Brenna was “burned alive” and Bryson was badly burned. • The only people in the house the night of the fire were Brenna, Brent and Bryson, according to testimony. Bryant told the jury the major question is, “What happened in that house?” Bryant said one of those individuals “didn’t make it out of the fire alive,” one was 2 years old, and the other was the defendant. • Brent and Brenna had “fought a lot” prior to the fire and although the couple had once reconciled after a past planned divorce, the marriage had “deteriorated” by October 2011. “She wanted out,” Bryant said. “She was ready to go, to move forward. She had started divorce papers and told Brent to pick them up.” • Although, according to testimony, Brenna had relationships with other men and jurors may not condone her decisions, “they are not an element of the crimes charged,” Bryant said. • Brent knew about those relationships and had found money in Brenna’s purse and an altercation had taken place over Brenna’s attempt to withdraw money. Brent also knew about texts between Brenna and Jason Harris seen on others’ phones, knew about the divorce and was “upset the week before about the state of the marriage,” Bryant said. • Bryant referred to previous testimony during the trial that Brent “could not stand the thought of waking up without his wife and kids” and another statement made, “If he can’t have her, nobody could.” • The day of the fire, Brent made plans as he “knew the marriage was over.” He had said he was going to a local pub to confront Harris but Bryant said he “never planned on going there.” She said Brent “deliberately” went home and confronted Brenna while she was on the phone. Previous testimony said Brent cursed at her and Brenna ended the call. Brent “incapacitated” Brenna and called 911 later after starting the fire. Bryant said he knew Brenna was alive when he made the call and started the fire. Brent testified he was “splashed with something” but didn’t remember anything further until waking up on the floor next to Brenna. Bryant said “at no point” did Brent ever try to pull Brenna out of the
burning room. • Bryant said after the fire, Bollinger was “making decisions” as he had chosen to take Bryson to his grandma’s house and called 911 from a landline there. Bryant said at no time did Bollinger mention Bryson’s injuries or his injuries during the 911 call. Brent chose to leave an injured Bryson there and return to his house, Bryant said. • At the fire scene, Brent told a “story” about cutting wood earlier in the day and spilling gasoline on himself and lighting a cigarette and that was how the fire started, which his cousin overheard, Bryant said. Bryant said there was “no story about anyone else starting the fire.” • Brent was able to communicate with EMS personnel at the scene, was “alert, awake and oriented” on the trip to the hospital, responded to questions, and repeated several times he “wanted to die” and was “responsible for the fire” and that he “killed his wife” and “couldn’t get her out,” Bryant said. Bryant said Bollinger’s memory only fails “when he’s done something wrong or may be in trouble.” • The fire originated in Bryson’s bedroom, which was completely burned. According to previous testimony, the fire was “set by someone,” Bryant said. The room also still smelled like gasoline after the fire. An accelerant, gasoline, was found on evidence, Bryant said. • Brenna and Brent’s cell phones were never recovered and evidence showed they weren’t destroyed at the scene and they were still logging information a couple days after the fire. Brent’s phone was turned off after the first 911 call. He used his cell phone to make the 911 call, Bryant said. • Bryant asked the jury to “consider who might have removed those items (gas container and cell phones) from the scene.” “Somebody got the container and cell phones out of the room. Who does that leave?” she asked the jury. • Bollinger testified that he had burned some of Brenna’s clothing in the backyard a week before the fire. Brent had also broken a dresser and “punched a TV,” Bryant said. The week prior to the fire, Brent had been “picking fights” with his wife, calling her “yelling and cursing” as well, Bryant said. • Bryant said premeditation “doesn’t require a plan, but there is one here.” The defendant “incapacitated the victim, got rid of the gas container and cursed at the victim,” Bryant said. “Is this someone who is ready to forgive, forget and move on?” Bryant also had an audio clip played from a 911 call the night of the fire and asked the jury to listen for a scream that can be heard in the background. Ward also issued instructions to the jurors Tuesday afternoon prior to them retiring to the jury room to deliberate before issuing a verdict. Ward gave instructions on the law applying to the case. Jurors also received instructions in writing. He said all jurors must agree on the verdict. One juror is chosen as presiding juror to speak in court and sign the agreed verdict. Ward also explained definitions of the charges Bollinger faced. The following were key points in Morrison’s arguments: • Morrison reiterated some statements he had made during his opening statements at the start of the trial, referring to the case being about “system failure.” “This case is about a rush to judgment and a failure by authorities to do a complete,
thorough and unbiased investigation,” Morrison said, adding some “key decision-making people” had made the decision during the investigation that Bollinger “is our guy,” he said. “Brent’s burns were just the beginning of his troubles. From the start, he was the one and only suspect in this case,” he said. “The whole investigation centered on my client.” Morrison described the case as a “tragedy.” “There was a boy burned, someone’s dead; it’s a tragedy,” he said. • Morrison said he also felt what was important was the exclusion of “any other theory of what happened in that bedroom.” “They thought, ‘He (Bollinger) was there, he must have done it,’” Morrison said. • Morrison also described the fire scene as being like a “county fair” with multiple people present. He mentioned from previous testimony how Fort Scott Fire Chief Paul Ballou had testified he had been concerned about scene security that night. • Morrison said the case also involved failure by investigators to look at other possible suspects. Jason Harris, who had an affair with Brenna Bollinger, “was someone to look at,” Morrison said. “But there were two interviews with him the next day, and that’s it,” Morrison said. • Morrison also cited problems with KBI investigators not taking photos of the “other half” of text conversations between Brenna and Harris earlier the night of the fire. Morrison said the meaning was never discovered behind text messages from Brenna to Harris such as “dumb f---’s gone,” “Two can play this game,” and “You said you were coming over.” “We’ll never know because they didn’t bother to look,” Morrison said. • Morrison also questioned why a piece of evidence, a broken jar which a detection canine had alerted to in the house, was not collected as evidence, taken to a lab and examined. • Morrison said the state had “no theory other than speculation. “He (Bollinger) was there and he’s alive, therefore he must have killed her and tried to burn the house down,” Morrison said. “Because he didn’t want a divorce.” • Morrison said he had difficulties believing that Bollinger could have assaulted his wife, strangled her, obtained accelerant, returned to the house and poured it, started the fire, get rid of the evidence, get Bryson out of the house and make the first 911 call, all in 54 seconds. “How can a human being do all those things in that time? It’s impossible,” Morrison said. • Morrison suggested that “maybe she (Brenna) poured (gas) on that house because he (Brent) destroyed her clothes the week prior. Maybe that was the reason he said, “What the f--- you doing, b---?” • Morrison said he doesn’t believe there is any evidence of premeditation in the case. “The bottom line is the state cannot prove what happened inside that room. No one knows what happened,” he said. • Morrison concluded his closing arguments by saying that just because Brent and Brenna’s marriage was “rocky” and the fact that “he’s alive doesn’t prove anything.” “The only thing worse than this tragedy is to convict someone for things they didn’t do,” Morrison said.
Photos by Joe Kuns
The Fort Scott Community College Greyhounds scrimmaged Allen County recently for 18 innings. It was the first of 19 fall scrimmages for the baseball team. Pitcher Landon Holifield delivers for Fort Scott Community College.
Tribune file photo
Uniontown High School will continue to play eight-man football after the board of education voted 5-2 to keep the program the same.
UHS football Continued from Page 1
“If consideration of the players is what we are going to base our decision on, it should’ve been two years ago,” Board President Wood said. The board decided two years ago to go to eight-man football competition because of a prediction of declining enrollment. “We thought our count would be 92 (students in grades 9-11) two years ago,” Superintendent Randy Rockhold said. “It’s exactly 100 (today)...we thought we would definitely be eightman until the count in 2019.” Rockhold added that the football team is enthused to be playing. “These kids have worked hard and they are enthused. I haven’t seen that in a while,” Rockhold said. “The best chance for their longest extended success is to do what they are wanting to do now,” Mason said.
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“Yes, we could compete at 11-man football,” UHS student John Kuns said. “But for everyone to play to their full potential, eightman would be better.” “They are small, fast, hard-working country kids,” Kevin Gleason, a parent of a student athlete, said. “As a dad, let’s don’t change in the middle of the stream, lets give them a chance.” At last week’s regular BOE meeting, the board: • Approved a request from FFA members to attend the 2013 FFA Convention on Oct. 29 to Nov. 2. FFA member Hannah Fry noted the cost per student is $191 including motels and travel. The itinerary will include convention sessions, leadership workshops and educational tours. FFA alumni will interview and select eight members as delegates. Delegates must have all Cs or better, be in the top ten in acquisition of points among the FFA members, must go through the interview
process and have a positive attitude and impeccable behavior on the trip. The group will be traveling with Marmaton Valley, Cherryvale, and Ell-Saline FFA chapters to divide the transportation costs. The board of education approved the trip. • Heard an update from Sara Jackman and Mark Warren, technology staff, on the integration of new technologies into the school system. All 12th grade students received a Chromebook computer and are required to carry them everyday to their classes. IPad minis were handed out to all teachers for an instructional tool, Rockhold said. “The most exciting thing for me about the new technology is the fact that our teachers and staff are all excited about implementing it,” he said. “And our senior students are very engaged by the technology and continue to grow in their ability to make it a useful tool.”