Crime & Courts

Man charged in tax office shooting enters not guilty plea

Twin Lakes shooting suspect pleads not guilty

Ricky Wirths, the man charged with attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of a state tax agent, entered a not guilty plea on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. Trial has been set for Nov. 13. Appearing before Judge James Fleetwood, Wirths waived his ri
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Ricky Wirths, the man charged with attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of a state tax agent, entered a not guilty plea on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. Trial has been set for Nov. 13. Appearing before Judge James Fleetwood, Wirths waived his ri

Ricky Wirths, the man charged with attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of a state tax agent, entered a not-guilty plea on Tuesday.

His trial has been set for Nov. 13.

Wirths waived his right to a preliminary hearing to determine if the state had enough evidence to proceed to a trial.

Earlier in the day, the family of the state tax agent who was critically injured issued a statement saying that Ricky Wirths shouldn’t be allowed to plead to a lesser charge.

After the hearing, District Attorney Marc Bennett spoke to reporters about the concern expressed by the family of Cortney Holloway. Bennett said there was a misperception that a plea-bargain offer had been made. “We never made an offer to the defense; it never came up ... It’s very early in the process.”

In another statement later Tuesday, Holloway’s family said his “progress in recovery remains the blessing we’ve all prayed for but he still has a long road ahead. We ask for your continued thoughts and prayers.” His family said it is “immensely appreciative of the public expressions of support through the fund set up in his name at Legacy Bank. Thank you for your generosity in spirit and deeds.”

Wirths, 52, remains in jail on a $500,000 bond. At the hearing Tuesday, he wore an orange jail jumpsuit and had shackles around his wrists and ankles.

On Sept. 19, police said, a man went into the state tax office in the Twin Lakes shopping center, near 21st and Amidon. The gunman allegedly used a .45-caliber handgun and shot Holloway – a Department of Revenue employee – multiple times, police have said.

The first statement from Holloway’s family came a couple hours before Wirths’ preliminary hearing.

“Rick Wirths walked into a state facility, asked for an officer of the state and tried to kill him,” the statement said.

“He should spend the balance of his life in prison; he should not be allowed to plead to a lesser charge; he should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” it said.

“Our family will have to live with the frightening reverberations of the Wirths’ horrific and cowardly act for the rest of our lives,” it said.

“Why should he receive a lighter sentence?”

Earlier the day of the shooting, authorities had gone to Wirths’ address to seize assets as part of tax warrant investigation.

Wirths owed almost $400,000 in taxes, the state said.

Police investigate a shooting at the Kansas Department of Revenue at 1800 N. Amidon Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (Video by Fernando Salazar)

The Wichita Police Department offers an update into the shooting of a state employee on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. (Nichole Manna/The Wichita Eagle)

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