Outside of the courtroom, Clara Catherine Crosser’s mother sobbed as she heard the charges against her daughter, one of two people accused of attempted first-degree murder – among other crimes – in the recent shooting of a Sedgwick County sheriff’s deputy.
“Ten counts, my god. I just don’t know what to say,” said the woman, who asked not to be named to protect the identity of her 3- and 5-year-old granddaughters – Crosser’s children – who accompanied her and their aunt to the courthouse.
The woman paused and shook her head, then added: “We’re shocked and in disbelief.”
A Sedgwick County District Court judge on Friday formally charged Crosser, 26, and her co-defendant, 35-year-old Jason Perez, with multiple crimes in connection with a three-county police pursuit that ended with a shootout Monday near the Butler County town of Potwin.
Crosser faces 10 counts, including three for attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer, making a criminal threat, possession of methamphetamine, two counts of burglary, fleeing from law enforcement and criminal damage to property.
Perez, faces 14 charges — the same counts as Crosser, plus three for criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and one for possession of marijuana after he was convicted of similar drug charge in August in Johnson County District Court.
Two of the attempted murder charges involve the shooting of a 33-year-old Sedgwick County sheriff’s deputy, identified in court Friday as Lucas Powell; the third alleges Crosser and Perez fired a rifle at Butler County sheriff’s Deputy William Baker that night.
Crosser appeared before Judge Warren Wilbert on Friday via television feed from the jail, two days after officials and law enforcement agreed to try the case in Sedgwick County rather than Butler County.
She wore a dark jail-issued jumpsuit and rested her elbows on a podium, her arms crossed and chin in one hand. Her eyes were lowered as Wilbert read the litany of charges.
“Are you requesting a court-appointed attorney?” Wilbert asked.
“Yes, your honor,” Crosser replied.
After Wilbert announced her bond and next hearing date, she said, “Thank you, your honor,” and walked away.
Dan Dillon, spokesman for the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office, said a district judge formally charged Perez on Friday at Wesley Medical Center, where Perez has been recovering from critical gunshot wounds sustained during a confrontation with law enforcement officers Monday. He is under guard at the hospital, Sedgwick County sheriff’s Lt. David Mattingly said Friday by e-mail.
Crosser and Perez are each being held in lieu of a $1 million bond. They were ordered to return to court March 28 for preliminary hearings.
Court records show the pair is from Gardner, but Crosser’s mother on Friday said they lived together in Spring Hill, about 11 miles to the southeast. They had been a couple since June, she said. Crosser is unemployed, her mother said, and her daughters and her 2-year-old son live elsewhere.
Crosser’s mother said she spoke with her daughter,called Katie by family, by phone Thursday after she was transferred to the Sedgwick County Jail from Butler County’s custody. She said her daughter maintained her innocence in Monday’s shootings.
“She told me on the phone that he (Perez) was holding her hostage,” Crosser’s mother said. “She said she didn’t do any shooting.”
Meanwhile at the end of a short hallway in the courthouse, Crosser’s two young daughters hugged and played. Their grandmother shushed their giggles.
“I am so sorry. I wish this had never happened,” she said, grief-stricken and expressing condolences over the deputy’s injuries. “It’s like a bad dream. But it’s still there when I wake up.”
Contributing: Hurst Laviana of The Eagle