Emily Glass — who police say led a private investigator to the body of 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez — walked out of the Sedgwick County Jail on Wednesday after District Attorney Marc Bennett announced that he would not be filing charges in the boy’s death that day.
A veteran Wichita defense attorney said that her release from jail at this point doesn’t mean much.
Glass was booked into jail late Thursday, May 24, after her stepson's body was found underneath a rural Harvey County bridge. She was booked on suspicion of interference with a law enforcement officer and obstruction and held on a $250,000 bond.
Once a person is booked into jail on suspicion of a crime, as Glass was, they must be released from jail within a limited amount of time if they don’t get charged.
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Veteran Wichita defense attorney Charley O’Hara noted that if an investigation becomes a murder case, prosecutors have an unlimited amount of time to investigate and pursue eventual charges.
“But you can’t hold them in jail until you figure out whether to charge them,” O’Hara said.
In Sedgwick County, prosecutors try to file charges 48 to 72 hours after someone is taken into custody without a warrant, district attorney’s spokesman Dan Dillon said.
About 4 p.m. Wednesday, Glass walked briskly out of the jail escorted by sheriff's officers and her attorney. She appeared to have been crying before she came out. She wore sunglasses and held a balled-up shirt over her face part of the time.
Protesters standing nearby chanted "Lucas" and "Lucas strong" as a TV reporter asked her a rapid battery of questions: How did Lucas die? Did you kill him accidentally? Why didn't you tell police in February where he was? Are you pregnant?
Glass never paused to answer — her attorney said she was taking no questions — and she quickly got into a waiting white van.
Elizabeth Greer, a mother of four young children, was among the bystanders and protesters.
"I want justice for Lucas," she said. "So that all of us have peace."
O’Hara, the defense attorney who was asked by The Eagle to comment on the Glass case, said people could wrongly assume that Glass is guilty of the most serious crime involving Lucas. He noted how the case has played out, with her reporting Lucas missing more than three months ago. Then, according to police, she led a private investigator to Lucas’ body this past week.
“That doesn’t mean she killed someone,” O’Hara said. “It means she’s lying about it (the body) afterward.”
Her release from jail also doesn’t mean that police won’t be able to eventually prove a case against her, he said. Anything that Glass told the private investigator is not information that can be withheld from police, he said.
Also, unlike police, a private investigator wouldn’t have to advise Glass of her rights, including the right to remain silent and to have an attorney present, he said.
O’Hara said he expects that the private investigator will be called to testify if charges are filed against Glass.
About three hours before Glass was released from jail, Bennett said investigators are continuing to follow newly developed leads and are awaiting the results of forensic examinations.
The investigation is not final until the autopsy examination is complete and toxicology results are available, the district attorney said in a brief statement.
“I appreciate the exhaustive investigation of this case conducted by law enforcement," Bennett said. "This office will continue to actively work with law enforcement until this case is resolved.”
Wichita police presented their case involving Lucas' death to the District Attorney's Office Wednesday morning.
Lucas had been missing since Feb. 17 when Glass told police that she awoke from a nap that Saturday and Lucas was gone. She called police that evening to report it. The family had recently moved to the rental home on South Edgemoor, near Kellogg.