A Sedgwick County jury has a fairly limited question to answer within a looming mystery.
The bigger question is: What happened to 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez? The Wichita boy vanished three months ago while in the care of Emily Glass, who has been described as his stepmother.
The narrow question for jurors to begin considering Wednesday: Did the 26-year-old Glass endanger her 1-year-old daughter by allegedly getting high on marijuana and then driving the child to a Wichita restaurant the day before she reported Lucas missing?
A former inmate at the county jail testified Tuesday that Glass told her she had smoked three bowls of marijuana and gotten “really high” before taking her daughter to Olive Garden, near Rock and Central, a few miles from her rental home. A Wichita police homicide detective also testified that Glass admitted to ingesting marijuana on Feb. 16 before the drive to the restaurant.
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The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Monika Hoyt, played a video in which Glass told detectives she left Lucas home while she and her daughter went out to eat. He had been sleeping. A little over 24 hours later, she called 911 to say he was missing from the home on South Edgemoor.
Her defense lawyer argued that the state’s child endangerment case lacks evidence — including any marijuana or drug pipe in the home — and portrayed Glass as a mother who kept a tidy house and a well-stocked refrigerator and took steps to feed and care for her daughter and Lucas. She had child seats in her SUV.
There was no scientific proof that Glass smoked marijuana or that it affected her driving, said defense lawyer Julia Leth-Perez.
The prosecution drew testimony from a homicide detective that the child endangerment case grew from “a more important investigation,” an allusion to the missing boy.
Glass is on trial in Sedgwick County District Court on a charge of misdemeanor endangerment of her 1-year-old. Most misdemeanor cases don’t get much attention. But this trial is different because of the missing boy. Attorneys in the trial are expected to make closing arguments Wednesday morning before the six-person jury begins to consider a verdict.
The trial, by design, is not about the bigger picture — Lucas. The defense attorney had argued outside the presence of the jury that discussing Lucas could cause jurors to be prejudiced against Glass.
So the attorneys and District Court Judge Eric Commer made sure that references to Lucas were limited, because Glass isn’t on trial for whatever happened to Lucas. Glass has been in jail on the misdemeanor charge since a few days after she reported Lucas missing.
On Tuesday, a former fellow inmate of Glass’, Joy Schreckhise, testified that in March she asked Glass why police kept searching the same field over and over. But the judge quickly cut off the witness from saying more about that.
Police and volunteer search crews have scoured Wichita parks, looking for any sign of Lucas.
Four days after Glass reported him missing, Wichita police announced that they had arrested Glass on suspicion of endangering Lucas and her 1-year-old daughter. But prosecutors decided to charge her only with endangering the girl, which prompted this week’s trial.
Tuesday’s testimony included glimpses of Lucas’ life around the time Glass called 911 to say he was missing from the home she shared with his father and her daughter. Police have described Glass as Lucas’ stepmother. Lucas’ father, Jonathan Hernandez, who worked out of town for weeks at a time, has been described as Glass’ fiance.
One thing that was clear from Tuesday’s testimony — Lucas was not with Glass and her 1-year-old daughter when those two went to the Olive Garden the day before she called 911 to report him missing.
Wichita police homicide Detective Ryan Schomaker told the jury about his four interviews with Glass in the days that followed the missing child call.
Glass talked about her marijuana use during the second and third interviews, he said.
During the third interview, the investigators asked her to write down what happened from the time she woke up on Feb. 16 until she called 911 on the evening of Feb. 17 to report Lucas missing. The investigators asked her to note everywhere she went, everyone she contacted.
Schomaker testified about Glass’ recollection of Feb. 16. At one point, she said during the interview, she lounged with her daughter and Lucas, watching cartoons. She fixed peanut butter and jelly and SpaghettiOs for lunch.
Lucas’ stomach didn’t feel well. She gave him medicine.
She cleaned up the children’s lunch messes and checked on Lucas every 20 to 30 minutes while he watched a movie.
According to the detective, Glass said she went to the garage to smoke marijuana around 3 to 3:30 p.m., got hungry and remembered that Lucas’ father had given her a gift card for Olive Garden.
Phone records show she was at the restaurant from 4:53 to 5:43 p.m. After she got home from the restaurant, she made dinner for Lucas. She gave both children a bath, put them to bed and had a video chat with Hernandez, Lucas’ father.
Hoyt, the prosecutor, re-played a video in which Glass talked about smoking pot more than once in a day. Glass would smoke pot in the garage, she said. The family had recently moved to a corner home on Edgemoor, south of Kellogg. A crime scene investigator's photos showed her white SUV backed into the garage.
Police have said that there was no evidence that Lucas was abducted, and that they doubted he would walk away.
The limited trial might be over Wednesday. But the mystery remains.