The Kansas City Star, Apr. 18, 2003
By TONY RIZZO, The Kansas City Star
They were the last words spoken to 9-year-old Brian Edgar as he lay wrapped in a head-to-toe cocoon of duct tape.
“Try to get out of that one,” baby sitter Chasity Boyd allegedly told him.
The next morning, his father carried the boy’s body, already stiffened with rigor mortis, into a hospital emergency room. Police investigators were soon called.
After an all-day preliminary hearing Thursday in Johnson County District Court, a judge ordered Boyd and Brian’s parents, Neil Edgar Sr. and Christy Edgar, to stand trial on felony first-degree murder charges in the boy’s death.
District Judge John Bennett also found sufficient evidence to try the three on felony child-abuse charges involving two other children.
Their attorneys entered not-guilty pleas for them.
Neil Edgar, 47; Christy Edgar, 46; and Boyd, 19, are charged with unintentionally causing Brian’s death Dec. 30 while inflicting child abuse.
The Edgars, who had adopted Brian, were pastors of God’s Creation Outreach Ministry in Kansas City, Kan. They had rented a house at 15718 Birch St. in Overland Park, where authorities allege Brian was killed.
Another adopted son, who is now 16, testified Thursday that Brian was wrapped “like a mummy” with duct tape that night because he was being punished for stealing food.
At one point that night, the Edgars had to go to the store to buy six more rolls of tape, their son recalled.
The night before, Brian had been wrapped up to his neck with tape, but he had spit out a sock that had been placed in his mouth and tried to gnaw the tape off, Brian’s brother said.
On the night of Dec. 29, Boyd and Christy Edgar wrapped him until only his nose was visible, and then Boyd carried him into a small storage room where he was placed on a sleeping bag, the brother testified.
Brian wasn’t breathing when his parents checked on him the next morning.
Physician Richard Deitz described the morning of Dec. 30 when Neil Edgar took Brian to the emergency room at KU Med.
“Help me. He’s not breathing,” Edgar said.
As emergency room personnel tried to revive the boy, it “became very apparent that young Brian was dead,” Deitz testified.
The onset of rigor mortis indicated that Brian had been dead for quite a while, Deitz testified.
Deitz said he walked to the waiting room where Neil Edgar was sitting and told him the boy was dead.
Edgar put his head in his hands, began to cry and repeated several times, “Oh Jesus, Oh God, what have I done?” Deitz testified.
Deitz asked Edgar what he meant.
Edgar said Brian had been waking up in the night and stealing food, Deitz testified.
Edgar said he had given Brian one dose of an herbal sleep aid that contained melatonin, and asked the doctor if he thought that could have caused Brian to die, Deitz testified. He said he told Edgar that he didn’t think one pill would do that.
Edgar told Deitz that the night before, he had checked on Brian and couldn’t wake him, but he said Brian was breathing and snoring.
When he checked again in the morning, Edgar told Deitz, the boy wasn’t breathing.
After speaking with Edgar, Deitz returned to the emergency room to examine Brian’s body. He and a nurse testified Thursday that they saw what appeared to be lines of adhesive residue around his head.
They also saw marks on the boy’s wrists and ankles and several marks on his face that could have been bruises, they testified.
Erik Mitchell, the pathologist who performed an autopsy on Brian, also described the adhesive marks around Brian’s head. He said some of the marks on Brian’s wrist and ankles appeared to be old and some very recent.
Mitchell testified that whatever caused those marks had been repeatedly used over time.
Brian was otherwise a healthy child, Mitchell testified, and the only reasonable explanation for his death was that something had obstructed his airway and caused his asphyxiation. There also was evidence that Brian had vomited and that material from his stomach had gotten into his lungs, Mitchell said.
He also testified that subsequent testing found no traces of melatonin as Neil Edgar had reported.
A member of the Edgars’ church testified that early on the morning of Dec. 30, Christy Edgar and Boyd went to her house in Kansas City with a trash bag and asked her to “get rid of it.”
Chauntel Williams said that inside the bag was a child’s one-piece sleeper covered with duct tape and a pair of socks, also with duct tape on them. She didn’t question them about the items, and her husband burned them in the fireplace, she testified.
Williams is charged with aiding a felon, but prosecutors will dismiss the charge in exchange for her cooperation, according to testimony.
Besides Brian and the 16-year-old boy, the Edgars had adopted two other children, a 9-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy.
Kansas City, Kan., Police Detective Mike Kill testified that both of the younger children had marks on their wrists similar to the ones found on Brian’s body.
The children told Kill that Boyd had bound their arms at the direction of their mother to punish them for taking food or sneaking drinks of water from a kitchen faucet.
Although there was no testimony that Neil Edgar directly took part in the alleged abuse of the children, District Attorney Paul Morrison argued that he allowed the abuse to take place and assisted those who carried it out.
Neil Edgar’s attorney, Carl Cornwell, said his client should face the same charge as Chauntel Williams — aiding a felon — and not the murder charge.
The judge and attorneys will meet this morning to scheduled future hearings and a possible trial date.