I stood in the clerk’s office on the seventh floor of the Sedgwick County Courthouse with Denise Hnytka, a reporter for KWCH-TV, Channel 12, in Wichita, waiting for the formal charging documents for Chris L. Newberry.
“Oh!” Denise said, looking at the criminal complaint.
“Yeah,” I said. As I read the charges, I knew exactly which part she was reacting to.
The complaint charged Newberry with dousing his 10-year-old stepdaughter, Caitlyn Johnson, with lighter fluid and setting her on fire as she slept in her bed last March.
Newberry had just made his first court appearance. There hasn’t been any evidence presented that he’s done anything, and he’s presumed not guilty by law.
But as details unfold, these are the kinds of cases that tend to linger long after you leave work.
People who follow my coverages of trials on Twitter often ask me if I have nightmares from the cases I follow.
This is the second consecutive case I’ve covered of someone accused of harming a child. As a parent, it’s one I’m expecting to lose a little sleep over.