Prosecutors on Wednesday charged two men with first-degree murder in a College Hill Park stabbing death – in which police said the suspects allegedly chased down the victim and attacked him after he burglarized a car.
Trenton H. Custer, 34, and Kyle A. Carter, 30, remain in jail on $250,000 bonds on the murder charges. They made their first appearances Wednesday afternoon in Sedgwick County District Court. Each faces a Sept. 25 preliminary hearing, which will likely be postponed.
Carl A. Cooper, 32, was pronounced dead Sunday afternoon at Wesley Medical Center, almost nine hours after he was stabbed two or three times, in his upper body and upper leg, near the park swimming pool, Wichita police Capt. Brent Allred said.
“Those injuries resulted in his death,” Allred said.
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Police don’t think Cooper or the suspects knew each other.
Allred gave this account:
A woman saw a man in her car in the driveway of her house in the 400 block of South Clifton around 3:45 a.m. Sunday and yelled at him. Two Wichita men who knew the woman heard her as they were coming up to the house to visit her.
According to police, Cooper ran north. Police think he was burglarizing the car on Clifton, Allred said.
The two men – one on foot and the other in a vehicle – chased him. The pursuit went into the park. Somewhere in the park, about a block north of where the chase began, Cooper suffered the stab wounds.
Bleeding heavily, Cooper reached the front porch of a home across the street from the park before collapsing, and the residents called 911.
Cooper managed to give a partial description of the vehicle, a white Chevrolet Silverado, which an officer found less than 10 minutes later at Hillside and Lewis. Custer was arrested there.
Carter was arrested several hours later in the 400 block of South Clifton, records show. Both were arrested without incident, Allred said.
Investigators have recovered a fixed-blade knife, he said.
Cooper was not armed at the time police found him. At the time of his death, Cooper – who had an extensive auto burglary record — was a parolee under high supervision in Sedgwick County, Kansas Department of Corrections records show.
Carter was on probation for felony forgery, court records show. In an affidavit he filled out in applying for a court-appointed attorney, Carter said he works for a construction company.
The other defendant, Custer, has a 1998 felony conviction in Kingman County for burglary of a building not used as a dwelling, records show. He spent time in prison in 1999 and 2000. In his affidavit seeking a court-appointed attorney in the stabbing case, Custer said he is unemployed.
In an interview before the charges were filed, Allred said police encourage people to call 911 and be a good witness if they see someone stealing property. Engaging the suspect can be risky, he said, because “that situation can get completely out of hand and out of control very quickly, and things such as this can happen.”