Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Anthony Bluml, one of four people charged with capital murder in the fatal shooting of his adoptive parents, according to a court document filed Wednesday.
At his arraignment Wednesday afternoon in Sedgwick County District Court, the 19-year-old Bluml pleaded not guilty and waived a reading of the charges against him.
The trial has been set for next month but will likely be continued.
Roger and Melissa Bluml were shot in the head as they sat in a car outside their rural Valley Center home Nov. 15 in what has been described as a scheme to get life insurance money. According to testimony at a preliminary hearing this past summer, Anthony Bluml allegedly resented being kicked out of the family’s house for smoking marijuana.
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District Attorney Marc Bennett filed a notice that he is seeking a separate sentencing proceeding “to determine whether defendant should be sentenced to death.”
The document cites “aggravating circumstances” to be considered at sentencing, if Anthony Bluml is convicted of capital murder. Those aggravating circumstances, the notice says, include that he “knowingly or purposely killed or created a great risk of death to more than one person,” that he committed the crime to gain money and that he got another person to carry out the crime.
Bluml, dressed in red jail garb and wearing shackles, stood at a lectern with his two defense attorneys during the brief court proceeding. He and his co-defendants remain in jail on bonds of $2 million each.
Most of the people in the courtroom were reporters or TV news crews. But Imalea Swank, 19, said she came to the arraignment because Anthony Bluml asked her to. Swank said she feels conflicted because she has been a friend of Anthony Bluml and his parents. They were all part of a network of Valley Center families whose bond was the sport of wrestling. Anthony Bluml was a high school wrestler.
“Everybody knew Melissa and Roger, so it was a big shock” when they were killed and their adopted son was charged in their deaths, Swank said.
“They did everything for Tony,” she said.
The three other defendants are Braden Smith, 19, Andrew Ellington, 19, and Kisha Schaberg, 36. Schaberg is Anthony Bluml’s biological mother.
Smith has testified that he provided guns for Schaberg and Ellington the night the couple were shot.
At Smith’s Oct. 6 arraignment, he pleaded not guilty. Ellington’s arraignment has been set for Nov. 20. Schaberg’s arraignment has not been set.
This summer, Smith entered into a plea deal with prosecutors that would reduce his capital-murder charge to two counts of second-degree intentional murder.
In exchange, Smith agreed to testify against the other defendants.
All four defendants have been charged with capital murder or in the alternative, two counts of first-degree murder. They also face two counts of aggravated robbery, a burglary charge and a theft charge.
Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or firstname.lastname@example.org.