Kahler murder trial expected to last weeks

James Kraig Kahler

Update: Tuesday, August 16 at 10:30 a.m.:

An attorney who represented a murdered Missouri woman in a divorce case is a witness in the capital murder trial of her estranged husband in Kansas.

Prosecutors were preparing Tuesday to call Dan Pingelton, of Columbia, Mo., for their second day of evidence against James Kraig Kahler, 48.

Kahler is charged in Osage County District Court with killing his estranged wife, their two daughters, and his wife's grandmother. They were shot in the grandmother's home outside Burlingame, about 20 miles south of Topeka.

Pingelton represented Kahler's estranged wife in the couple's divorce case in Columbia, where Kahler had been water director but lost his job.

Defense attorneys contend Kahler was mentally ill at the time because his wife was having a lesbian affair and his marriage was breaking up. Update: Monday, August 15 at 6:55 p.m.:

The capital murder trial for a former Columbia city official is now underway.

Monday morning prosecutors began presenting evidence against James Kraig Kahler, who served as Columbia TMs Water and Light Director until officials asked him to step down because of issues related to his troubled marriage.

Fewer than three months later, prosecutors say he shot and killed his two daughters, ex-wife, and her grandmother at the elderly woman TMs home in Burlingame, Kansas.

The incident happened Thanksgiving weekend 2009. Attorneys said Monday that it was the Kahler family TMs first holiday apart. Karen Kahler had filed for divorce.

In his opening statement, Osage County, Kansas Attorney Brandon Jones described the murders as intentional and pre-meditated. But Thomas Haney, Kahler TMs attorney, said during his opening statement that his defendant was a shell of a man who snapped because his wife was having a lesbian affair.

He lost everything he loved, became mentally overwhelmed and snapped, Haney said. No one in their right mind would do this.

According to the defense, the Kahler family was a perfect, Cleaver family before Karen TMs alleged lesbian affair began. According to his attorney, Kahler became obsessed with keeping his family together.

The attorneys weren TMt the only ones to speak during the first day of the jury trial. Kahler TMs young son testified.

Sean Kahler, 12, testified against his father. He said he saw his father shoot his mother and that he ran from the home after that.

This is not the first time Sean has testified against his father. Last year, he explained what happened the day his mother, sisters, and great-grandmother were killed.

Sean is the only survivor from the rampage.

(The Associated Press and WIBW-TV contributed to this report)

Original Story:

The capital murder trial for a former Columbia city employee is expected to take weeks to finish.James Kraig Kahler is accused of shooting his wife and children as well as his wife's grandmother in northest Kansas. He's the former Columbia water and light director.The capital murder trial for a former Missouri city official accused of shooting four family members in northeast Kansas could last three weeks or longer.Prosecutors will begin presenting their case Monday in Osage County (KS) District Court. They are seeking the death penalty against Kahler.The shooting deaths occurred in November 2009 in a town about 20 miles south of Topeka. Evidence is expected to deal with Kahler's mental health after his estranged wife allegedly had a relationship with another woman. The killings came less than three months after Kahler was asked to resign as water director in Columbia.(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)