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2 bound over for trial in College Hill Park stabbing death

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013, at 11:48 a.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013, at 5:55 p.m.

A man who was stabbed to death after breaking into a car apparently got nothing more than pocket change from the vehicle before he was chased down by two vigilantes in College Hill Park, witnesses testified Thursday.

Michelle Wilmore, whose BMW was broken into, told police on the morning of the stabbing that she was told that the victim said he was “just trying to feed his babies” when he was confronted by the men.

Another witness said Carter said “I punished him” when describing his encounter with the car burglar.

At the close of a hearing in Sedgwick County District Court, Trenton H. Custer, 34, and Kyle A. Carter, 31, were bound over for trial for pre-meditated first-degree murder in the death of Carl A. Cooper, a parolee who had six felony burglary convictions.

Wichita police said Cooper, 32, broke into a car in the 400 block of South Clifton around 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 8. They said Custer and Carter, who were visiting the home where the break-in occurred, chased him and confronted him in the park.

Wilmore said Custer and Carter stopped by her house on the morning of the stabbing to help her clean. She said a camera mounted on her front porch captured the image of a man walking across her front yard. She said she asked her visitors to go out to see if anything was wrong. She also said she went to bed not realizing that anyone had been killed.

Tracy Ramsey testified her daughter woke her up in the pre-dawn hours that morning to tell her that someone was knocking on their front door. She said she called 911 as her husband went to see who was at the door. She said she later saw Cooper lying near her front lawn.

“His stomach was absolutely saturated with blood, from his waist down into his shoes, and there was blood all over the porch,” she said.

Cooper died about nine hours later at Wesley Medical Center.

Wichita police Officer Lee Froese said he heard the stabbing call on his police radio and stopped a white pickup matching the description of one seen at the scene. He said Custer, the driver, appeared nervous and had fresh scrapes on his right shoulder. There was a knife on the floorboard of the pickup, he said.

Sara Custer, Trenton Custer’s wife, said she talked to Carter several hours after the stabbing trying to find her husband.

“He said, ‘I got into a fight last night, and Trenton freaked out and bounced,’” she testified.

It was during that conversation, Sara Custer said, that Carter mentioned that he had “punished” the car burglar.

“Did it sound like he was bragging about it?” prosecutor Justen Phelps asked.

“Absolutely,” she replied.

At the close of the hearing District Judge Ben Burgess placed the cases against both men on the Feb. 10 jury trial docket.

Reach Hurst Laviana at 316-268-6499 or hlaviana@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @hlaviana.

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