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Murder trial stalled by dispute over detectives’ comments

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, June 4, 2013, at 3:55 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, July 31, 2013, at 3 p.m.

A jury that was set to hear the second-degree murder trial of a man charged with the June 2, 2012, shooting death of Jolie Crosby was sent home early Tuesday after lawyers couldn’t agree whether detectives were serious when they told the suspect the shooting appeared to be an accident.

Lawyers for Ronald Harner contend that two Wichita police detectives meant it when they said “Ron, Ron, this is an accident” as they were questioning him at City Hall after the shooting.

Prosecutors said the detectives’ statements were part of an investigative ploy to get Harner to tell them the truth. They said the detectives were willing to testify about their intent.

District Judge Joseph Bribiesca initially sided with prosecutors and ruled that the detectives’ comments could be redacted from a video statement that Harner gave to police.

Defense lawyer John O’Connor of Kansas City, Mo., argued that the detectives were serious, and he asked Bribiesca to watch the video before issuing a ruling. O’Connor said his decision on whether to make an opening statement in the trial would rely on Bribiesca’s ruling.

Because the interview is several hours long, Bribiesca sent the jury home at 2 p.m. and said he would issue a final ruling Wednesday after watching the video. Opening statements will follow the ruling.

Wichita police said Crosby, 41, was shot once in the head in the living room of her home in the 8400 block of East Greenbriar Court, which is near 29th Street North and Rock Road. Wichita police said Crosby’s 14-year-old daughter called 911 to report the shooting, and that Crosby was pronounced dead at the scene. Harner, 48, has been held in the Sedgwick County Jail on $250,000 bond since his arrest.

Reach Hurst Laviana at 316-268-6499 or hlaviana@wichitaeagle.com.

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