With his family and co-workers watching on, Marc Bennett was sworn in Monday as Sedgwick County district attorney, the first Republican to hold the office in 24 years.
After the ceremony on the eighth floor of the Sedgwick County Courthouse, Bennett told reporters he would follow through on his campaign pledge to push elderly abuse and economic crime toward the top of the list of priories for an office that generates its biggest headlines in cases involving murder and other crimes of violence.
Bennett takes over for outgoing District Attorney Nola Foulston, who did not seek re-election last year to a position she had held since 1989. Bennett received 54 percent of the vote in the Aug. 7 in defeating Republican challenger Kevin O’Connor, and he faced no Democrat opposition in November.
As the county’s top prosecutor, Bennett said, he will maintain a limited caseload that includes the county’s only capital murder case.
In that case, Marquis Marshall is charged in the Nov. 30 shooting deaths of two people in the Dollar General store near 13th and Oliver. Store employee Zachary Hunt, 22, and customer Hank Harvey, 79, were both shot multiple times near the front of the store. The preliminary hearing in that case is set for April 4. Police have disclosed no motive for the shooting.
Bennett said he also would stay on the case of Daniel Perez, who is facing more than 30 charges including murder, rape, sodomy, sexual exploitation of a child, aggravated assault and criminal threat. The murder charge accused Perez of drowning Patricia Hughes in a pool at his Valley Center compound in 2003. That case is scheduled to go to jury trial on May 6.
Bennett said Deputy District Attorney Kim Parker will stay on as the second-in-command in the office.