Special Reports

Presumed Guilty: Who's Who

Ronald Lee "Ronnie" Rhodes: Convicted of murder in 1981 at age 26. Rhodes worked for a trash service at the time and lived at 2627 E Mossman. He has always denied committing the crime. Now 56, he is serving a life sentence at the Lansing Correctional Facility.

Cleother Burrell: Died of 20 stab wounds at about 5 p.m. Feb. 2, 1981 in the apartment complex at 630 N. Topeka. Burrell was apparently homeless and had been staying in Apt. 14 for at least two days prior to Feb. 2. He was 45.

Bruce Terry Elliott: Claimed to be an eyewitness to Burrell's killing. The 40-year-old rented Apt. 14 and said he allowed people to stay at his apartment, including Eddie Field and his girlfriend "Goldie." Elliott said he allowed Burrell to stay there because he had no place to live. Elliott has blood on his clothes and hands when police interviewed him the night of Burrell's death. Elliott said he worked at Trinity Marketing Service, 2340 N. Broadway. He said he paid his bills through a trust fund set up by his father at Fourth National Bank (now Bank of America).

Janet Weiblen: Pastor at Weston (Mo.) Christian Church, who works with "Reaching Out From Within" a self-help group for inmates at the Lansing Correctional Facility. Rhodes is a member and former chairman of the group. Weiblen believes Ronnie Rhodes is not guilty of murder.

Rebecca Woodman: As an adjunct professor at the Washburn University School of Law, she teaches a class on wrongful convictions. One of the assignments of the class was to study the case of Ronald Rhodes.

Washburn Law Students: Researched the Rhodes' case, the include: (fall 2010) Jeff Adam, James Clark, Dustin Crook, Valerie Glenn, Clay Houser, Stephen Jones, Robert Krattley, Dan Krob and Rachel Verhage. (fall 2009): Amy Greiner, Mandy Johnson, Kevin Keatley, Dan Reynolds. Keatley, Peterson and Greiner continued to work on researching the case in the spring of 2010.

Kiehl Rathbun: Rhodes' court-appointed attorney. Rathbun, who had been practicing law for five years, was appointed just a month before the trial. It was Rathbun's first murder case. He was put on probation for misconduct in 2003 and disbarred in 2007.

Warner Eisenbise: Rhodes' original attorney, he gave the case to Rathbun after a couple of months. Eisenbise waived Rhodes' preliminary hearing. Rhodes would later say he wasn't consulted about that waiver.

Michael R. Jones: Homicide detective with the Wichita Police Department and lead investigator on the Rhodes case.

Roger Skinner: Assistant district attorney who prosecuted Rhodes.

Gordon Atcheson: Assistant district attorney who wrote the appeal brief for the state in the Rhodes case. He currently sits on the Court of Appeals.

Nicholas Klein: Sedgwick County district judge who presided over the Rhodes' trial.

Ted Milham and Jerry Fraipont: Detectives with the Wichita police, who interviewed Bruce Elliott.

David Brunston: Owner of the Chateau Lounge at 616 N. Emporia. He testified at Rhodes trial. Brunston called police saying Rhodes had a knife at the bar and that he dropped it in a booth. Police searched the booth and did not find a knife.

Vickie Carrell: Was at the Chateau and testified she saw Rhodes with a knife. She died on Oct. 10, 2005.

Gail Kelly: A roommate of Vickie Carrell at 1149 ½ N. St. Francis. Kelly said Carrell later confided in her that she lied on the witness stand at Rhodes' trial. Kelly is Rhodes' cousin.

Leesa (Silver) Oliver: Manager of the apartment complex at 630 N. Topeka. Rhodes said he had been dating her and went to see her the night of Feb. 2. She wasn't home, so he began drinking with several men, including Bruce Elliott and Cleother Burrell in Apt. 14. Oliver also worked the counter at the Lazy R restaurant. She told police she was out shopping when the killing occurred. She also told police Elliott had a temper and kept accusing the people who stayed in his apartment of stealing money from him. Detectives withheld that statement from both the prosecutor and Rhodes' defense lawyer. She did not testify at Rhodes' trial.

Sarah Rajewski: Journalism student at Kansas State, worked as a research assistant during an internship with the Eagle.

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