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2008: Jurors hear details of 14-year-old's slaying

Originally published May 20, 2008:

Everett Gentry drove his new car to a Butler County field on June 9, 2006, and dug a grave. Gentry, now 19, told a jury Monday how he helped kill 14-year-old Chelsea Brooks. His story has changed since Gentry first told it nearly two years ago.

Prosecutors say Gentry now takes more responsibility for helping kill his best friend's pregnant girlfriend.

Lawyers defending Ted Burnett against capital murder say Gentry can't keep his story straight because it's not true.

One part of Gentry's story hasn't changed: that he planned the killing with his friend Elgin Ray Robinson Jr., and the two of them hired Burnett to finish the job.

As Gentry testified Monday:

Robinson was 18 and Chelsea, his sister's friend, was 13.

Robinson told Gentry: "I took her virginity."

"Just don't get her pregnant," Gentry remembered telling him.

Gentry's girlfriend became pregnant in August. By December, Chelsea was pregnant, too.

"He was happy," Gentry said of Robinson.

The two boyhood friends expected to be fathers by summer.

That changed when Chelsea's family filed a restraining order against Robin-son. They threatened to press rape charges. In Kansas, sex with anyone under 14 is considered rape.

Soon, Robinson started talking about "getting rid of his problem."

First, they discussed causing a miscarriage.

But Gentry saw a change in Robinson's attitude. He began talking about killing Chelsea around April of that year.

Gentry said he'd been trying to borrow money from Robinson for drugs. Later, Robinson offered not a loan, but a payoff, of $1,000, if he'd arrange Chelsea's death, Gentry said.

They talked about how best to kill her. "Shoot her," Gentry remembered Robinson saying. Too messy, they decided. They also needed to cover up the deed.

Robinson did computer research on how to dispose of a body. The two men drove around Wichita scouting possible burial sites.

They considered a pond at the city's MacDonald Municipal Golf Course. They followed a rail line west of the golf course and started digging a hole. Then they decided there were too many houses around and they would have to carry the body too far.

They drove to Butler County and north on Andover Road, until they stopped seeing houses. They pulled down a dirt road called Mulberry.

"It was Mul-bury, and we were looking for a place to bury a body," Gentry testified.

Robinson knew he'd be a prime suspect. So he arranged to go out of town with another girlfriend. She worked at QuikTrip and through work had received passes for Worlds of Fun in Kansas City.

Gentry said he first approached Burnett, 51, about killing Chelsea around the end of May. He offered Burnett payment of $500 in drugs and money.

But when he told the story later, Gentry said he went to Robinson a few days before the killing and said he couldn't do it on his own.

Defense attorney Gary Owens pointed out the inconsistency.

Gentry said he'd known Burnett about a month. He said Burnett was a "crackhead," whom Gentry provided drugs - a supply that he could cut off.

"Is he the kind of guy who is going to turn you down?" asked prosecutor Marc Bennett.

"No," Gentry said.

Gentry continued his testimony:

On June 9, 2006, Robinson set up what Chelsea thought was an arrangement to meet him. She was to go to Skate South roller-skating rink and wait for a ride.

Gentry picked Chelsea up and took her to his sister's vacant apartment in the 1300 block of South Main. He told the girl to wait while he left to contact Robinson.

Instead, Gentry went to Burnett's apartment three blocks away on South Market.

Gentry said Burnett got nervous when he saw Chelsea, because of her age and advanced pregnancy. Burnett needed to smoke crack to "calm down."

They left Chelsea again and stopped at a Walgreens because Gentry said he thought they might need a flashlight. Burnett smoked his crack.

Chelsea was angry that Robinson had not shown up. Gentry told her he had to drop off his friend, then he'd return her to the skating rink. Chelsea started to get in the back seat but Gentry said Burnett stopped her. He'd take the back seat, behind her.

They drove to where Gentry had dug the grave earlier that day. As he turned down Mulberry Road, Gentry said he reached back between the seats and tapped Burnett on the knee - a signal.

Gentry said Burnett then snapped an electronics cord around Chelsea's neck. He braced his foot against the seat for balance.

"Everett!" Chelsea screamed before the cord cut off her voice.

Gentry said he looked away so he wouldn't see her struggle and turned up the radio, so he wouldn't hear her gasps.

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