Adrian Johnson, who authorities say is connected to the July fire death of 6-year-old Ja’Kara Dickson of Wichita, made a first appearance before a Sedgwick County judge on Monday to hear the charges being brought against him: three counts of aggravated endangerment of a child.
Judge Warren Wilbert set a preliminary hearing for Johnson, 23, for 9 a.m. Dec. 17 before Judge Joseph Bribiesca. Wilbert set bond at $100,000 and told Johnson a public defender would be appointed to represent him. Johnson said he needed a public defender but told Wilbert he intended at some time to hire an attorney himself.
Johnson made his appearance before Wilbert via video from the Sedgwick County Jail.
Authorities have not said what Johnson’s suspected connection to the case is. Dan Dillon, a spokesman for Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett, said he could not release any information.
But Wilbert on Monday told Johnson that in addition to the $100,00 bond, he was imposing a protective order preventing Johnson from having any contact with three members of Ja’Kara Dickson’s family, including two surviving siblings of the victim.
Ja’Kara died of burns three days after authorities said she accidentally lit her own clothes on fire at her home on July 11.
Ja’Kara’s mother, Ruthie Lee Bell, 27, left the girl and her two sisters, ages 4 and 7, alone before the fire broke out in their home at 3915 E. Countryside, police said. A neighbor has said that the mother would get in a car with a man and leave the children without supervision.
Bell’s attorney, Pat Mitchell, has previously said the mother didn’t leave the children alone at home and is not guilty of the three counts of aggravated child endangerment she also faces.
Authorities have said Ja’Kara was playing with a lighter, setting fire to plastic in the bathroom, when her clothes ignited. Another neighbor, Kelley Riegle, heard the fire alarm and rescued Ja’Kara and her sisters from the burning house.
But the girl died three days later from the damage done by burns over 40 percent of her body, authorities said.