Crime & Courts

Jury delivers not-guilty verdict in child endangerment case of missing boy's stepmother

A jury on Wednesday acquitted the stepmother of missing 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez of one count of child endangerment involving her own 1-year-old daughter.

Emily Glass has been on trial this week for reportedly smoking three bowls of marijuana in her garage, then driving to the Olive Garden at Central and Rock with the girl on Feb. 16. She admitted to ingesting the drug during law enforcement interviews, prosecutor Monika Hoyt told jurors, asking for a conviction.

But there was no physical evidence — such as blood or hair follicle tests or drug paraphernalia — found that proves Glass smoked pot or that it affected her driving, Glass' defense attorney, Julia Leth-Perez, argued.

A six-person jury delivered the not-guilty verdict after deliberating for less than an hour Wednesday morning. Her trial started Monday.

The verdict brought quiet but mixed reactions from those in the courtroom gallery.

A few people there on Lucas' behalf shed tears.

"I'm just very disappointed in the verdict. I was hoping she (Glass) would be found guilty," Robin Taylor, the boy's maternal grandmother, said outside the Sedgwick County Courthouse following announcement of the jury's decision. She said she had hoped the endangerment case would lend clues to Lucas' location.

Now, Taylor said, "I'm hoping for more evidence to be gathered, and I want the searchers to continue searching (for him)."

Glass had been held in the Sedgwick County Jail since her arrest on the child endangerment charge on Feb. 21.

The acquittal means she'll be released in that case.

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said Wednesday he respected the jurors' verdict.

Glass' attorney accompanied her as she was escorted by sheriff's deputies out of the courtroom. She did not speak with reporters.

This week's trial did not touch on the larger question looming over Glass: Where is Lucas, and why did he vanish?

Glass reported the pre-kindergartner missing on Feb. 17 — the day after the Olive Garden trip. She says Lucas was playing in his bedroom when she showered and laid down for a nap.

When she awoke a few hours later, she told police, he was gone.

Glass has also told police that she left Lucas at home when she took her 1-year-old to Olive Garden. Lucas was sleeping then, according to Glass. His father, Jonathan Hernandez, was working out of town at the time.

Three months later, the boy’s whereabouts remain a mystery.

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A police officer has said publicly he doesn’t think Lucas walked away from his home on his own. Experts say a stranger abduction is unlikely and extremely rare. Law enforcement and public searches for the boy have turned up nothing.

Many fear him dead.

No one has been criminally charged in connection with his disappearance.

Amy Renee Leiker: 316-268-6644, @amyreneeleiker
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