O’Connor starts new job in Johnson County DA’s office

Kevin O’Connor wants to live here and put criminals in prison for the rest of his life.

And he can do that now, but only with a long commute.

He started work today as a prosecutor in Johnson County, more than a two-hour commute one way from Wichita.

He resigned earlier this month as city attorney for Derby, a job he held for eight months. Before that, he ran for Sedgwick County district attorney, losing last summer to Marc Bennett.

In Olathe, he will head the sex crimes section for Johnson County District Aattorney Steve Howe, Howe’s office said today. O’Connor said he will work cases and supervise three other prosecutors.

O’Connor said he liked working for Derby but missed prosecuting crimes. He had worked on some of Sedgwick County’s bigger criminal cases, from 1992 to 2009. He left after a falling-out with District Attorney Nola Foulston, who left office in January.

For Foulston, he worked on cases including the Michael Marsh and Stanley Elms capital murder cases, and with Foulston and prosecutor Kim Parker helped prepare the criminal case against Dennis Rader, the BTK serial killer.

After leaving Foulston’s office, he worked part time, including on big cases, for the state attorney general’s office. For that office, he led the prosecution in the capital murder case against Adam Longoria, helping convict him in Barton County of the murder of 14-year-old Alicia DeBolt.

“I missed prosecuting cases, and so when this opportunity came up, I agonized but I took it,” he said.

O’Connor and Bennett, who defeated him in the August Republican primary election, were colleagues who worked several cases together as prosecutors.

It was hard to campaign against Bennett, O’Connor said, because Bennett “was a friend and a good guy. I have genuine respect for Marc. He’s doing a good job as district attorney.”

He and his family are keeping their home in the Wichita area. O’Connor, 49, said he didn’t want to uproot his four children from their schools. He will now be a weekend commuter on I-35 to Olathe and back, a prospect made easier, he said, by XM radio. He’ll listen to sports on the air. And he said he will drive the speed limit.

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