Crime & Courts

Jury selection to begin in second murder trial involving high-speed chase

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in the second trial of a man charged with first-degree murder in a crash after a high-speed chase that killed a Haysville woman in November 2004.

Greg Berry, 30, was convicted of the murder charge in August 2005, but the Kansas Supreme Court overturned the conviction, ruling that the jury should have been allowed to consider less-serious charges.

In its ruling, the court said “the evidence is undisputed that Berry fled from the traffic stop and recklessly drove down city streets at an unconscionably high rate of speed. His flight caused an automobile accident that took someone’s life.”

But the court said the evidence also could support a conviction for such less serious crimes as second-degree reckless murder, involuntary manslaughter or vehicular homicide.

Berry was convicted in August 2005, after a trial that was dwarfed in media coverage by the two-day sentencing hearing of Dennis Rader, also known as the BTK strangler. Rader was sentenced to 10 consecutive life sentences after pleading guilty to 10 counts of murder.

In another courtroom that week, prosecutors were alleging that Berry was running from a sheriff’s deputy when he caused a crash at 47th South and Meridian that killed 55-year-old Vicki Brown of Haysville.

During Berry’s preliminary hearing in February 2005, Sedgwick County sheriff’s Deputy Tracy Spreier testified that he stopped Berry’s black Cadillac at about 1:45 a.m. on Nov. 25, 2004, because its temporary tag was too dirty to read. He said he pulled the car over on 47th Street South, just west of Broadway.

After he asked Berry for his driver’s license, insurance card and 30-day tag permit, Spreier testified, “He put it in drive and took off.”

Spreier said he followed the car to Seneca before calling off the chase for safety reasons. He said he continued driving west toward Meridian and saw the crash from a distance.

Brown was killed in the crash. Investigators said Berry ran into a nearby residence but was arrested after one of the occupants called 911.