Bond reduced for couple accused of abusing, killing son

The Kansas City Star, Jan. 18, 2003
http://www.kansascity.com/
By TONY RIZZO

Bonds for the jailed parents of a slain 9-year-old boy were lowered Friday from $2 million to $200,000 despite the vehement objection of prosecutors.

Christy Edgar and her husband, Neil Edgar Sr., will be under house arrest at their south Overland Park home if they post the bonds set by Johnson County District Judge John Bennett.

The Edgars are charged with first-degree felony murder in the Dec. 29 death of Brian Edgar, who suffocated after he had been bound and gagged at bedtime the night before.

“That bond is too low for a child abuse murder case,” Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison told Bennett. “I think you made a mistake.”

He said the Edgars had led other people in a systemic pattern of child abuse and had attempted to destroy evidence after Brian’s death.

But Bennett said he considered $200,000 a significant bond that would ensure their appearance in court. He also said he didn’t think the couple posed a public safety risk if held under house arrest with no children in the home.

A third suspect charged in the boy’s death, Chasity Boyd, did not appear at Friday’s hearing. She was a baby sitter for the Edgars, and her bond remained at $2 million.

Besides the murder charge, the Edgars and Boyd face charges in Johnson County of abusing two of the Edgars’ other children.

Christy Edgar, Boyd and five other women were charged Thursday in Wyandotte County District Court in connection with a separate allegation child abuse involving the same children and a friend of the children.

If Christy Edgar posts bond in Johnson County, she would be turned over to Wyandotte County authorities, where her bond has been set at $25,000.

Bonds of $1 million have been common in recent Johnson County first-degree murder cases, but unlike the Edgars’ case, those cases have involved intentional murder allegations.

A felony murder charge involves an intentional or unintentional death that occurs during the commission of another crime. In the Edgars’ case, the other offense would be child abuse.

In a 1999 felony murder case, a bond of $1 million was set for a man who drove a stolen truck the wrong way on a highway and killed two persons.

In another traffic death case in 2001, a bond of $100,000 was set for a woman who drove under the influence of drugs and was involved in a collision that killed a 7-year-old girl.

She faced a charged of involuntary manslaughter, a less serious crime than murder.

At Friday’s hearing, Morrison revealed details about the allegations surrounding the Edgars and their Kansas City, Kan., church.

Morrison said that Brian’s face “was wrapped like a mummy” on the night he died and was basically “so bound up” that he couldn’t breathe.

Morrison referred to a condition known as “positional asphyxiation,” which has occasionally been a cause of death when persons in police custody have had arms and legs bound behind their backs.

The Edgar children were “highly conditioned” and initially refused to talk to police about what Morrison called systemic abuse. One child told investigators that he wanted to “take the Fifth,” Morrison said.

Another child told authorities they were taught to “not talk against their parents.” Morrison said the children were so conditioned that they didn’t know there was anything wrong with the way they had been treated.

Church members have gone underground to avoid talking to investigators, he said, and the church’s finances were under investigation. He said a lot of money had gone into the church, but very little appeared to go out into the community.

“We’re still trying to sort out whether the church is a complete scam or a partial scam,” Morrison said.

One fact that investigators found to be “100 percent crystal clear” was that Christy Edgar ran the church, Morrison alleged. Church members called her “mother” and “the prophet.”

Wyandotte County District Attorney Nick Tomasic made similar allegations about Christy Edgar at a Thursday news conference.

“On matters of the church, the people listened to what she said and followed her instructions,” Tomasic said.

Morrison said Christy Edgar was the one who gave the orders to other church members to carry out discipline of the children.

In seeking the bond reductions, Neil Edgar’s lawyer, Carl Cornwell, and Bob Thomas, who represents Christy Edgar, reminded the judge that the allegations were just that, and the Edgars were presumed innocent.

Neither would be a risk to flee the area, the attorneys said.

“She has at every juncture expressed the desire to come to court and face these charges,” Thomas said of Christy Edgar.

Cornwell said things are being worked on that may put Neil Edgar in a “better position” both with the district attorney and the public. He did not elaborate.

The Edgars enjoy “wide support” in the community, according to their lawyers. Cornwell said many people have expressed the desire to donate money for the Edgars’ bond.

None of those supporters attended Friday’s hearing at the courthouse in Olathe. Cornwell said they wanted to avoid media attention.

Neither of the Edgars spoke at the hearing. They sat across the room from each other and kept their heads bowed throughout most of the hearing.

They remained in the Johnson County Jail as of Friday evening.

The Star’s Robert A. Cronkleton contributed to this report.

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