Killer convicted in Missouri to go on trial in Texas triple homicide

LUBBOCK, Texas | A Texas jury is expected to hear opening arguments Monday for a man accused of gunning down a family in their rural Texas farmhouse within hours of killing two people in Missouri.

Levi A. King, 26, was convicted and sentenced in Missouri to life in prison, and now faces the death penalty in Texas. If convicted and sentenced to death, the Texas punishment will take precedence under an agreement with Missouri.

King was charged after the fatal shootings of farmer Brian Conrad, 31; his pregnant wife, Michell Conrad, 35; and her 14-year-old son, Zach Doan. They were found dead in their remote, modest one-story frame farmhouse in September 2005.

Michell Conrad's daughter, who was 10 at the time, survived the rampage and called 911. Texas law enforcement agencies haven't released recordings of the call or information about what the girl saw or how she survived. It wasn't clear whether she would testify.

The crime caused widespread fear in the family's small community in Pampa, and Gray County Stephen Emmert later moved the trial Lubbock.

Emmert issued a gag order in the case that both prosecutor Lynn Switzer and one of King's defense attorneys, Maxwell Peck III, cited when they declined to talk about the case this week. Brian Conrad's mother, Sharon Conrad of Cleburne, also declined comment.

The trial is expected to last three weeks.

King pleaded guilty last year in the shooting deaths of Orlie McCool, 70, and his 47-year-old daughter-in-law, Dawn McCool. Their bodies were found by a relative in a rural Pineville, Mo., home on Sept. 30, 2005 — the same day authorities in the Texas Panhandle discovered the bodies in the Conrads' home.

Missouri authorities said King left Missouri in Orlie McCool's Dodge pickup truck, driving south and then west on Interstate 40 before coming upon the Conrads' home about 10 miles north of I-40.

King was caught the evening the same night trying to re-enter the United States at the Mexican border in El Paso, Texas. Prosecutors and law enforcement haven't said what may have prompted the attacks.