TOPEKA (KSNT) – 27 News sat down with Shawnee County’s District Attorney Mike Kagay on Wednesday morning.
When asked if he planned to run again for the position of District Attorney, Kagay said he was in it for the “long haul.”
“When I ran the first time I told voters, ‘I’m here for the long haul,'” Kagay said. “I’m not here just to use this as a stepping stone to something else. Although, I have had those opportunities. I’m committed to doing this work. I’m passionate about what we do, passionate about public safety and about making sure that families are safe in our community.”
27 News then asked about the case involving Geovany Arellano and Michael Flores-Herrera who were arrested following the death of Topeka motorcyclist Sam Rice. Kagay responded by saying that, due to the fact that it is a pending case, he could not reveal any details.
“What I’ll do is I’ll talk about felony murder because both the driver and the passenger of the vehicle have been charged with felony murder. That’s the most serious of the offenses that they’re facing and, under Kansas law, the penalty for that is a period of 25 years before the possibility of parole,” Kagay said. “So, when convicted of felony murder, the offender has to serve 25 years before they can even be considered for parole, and that’s considered a life sentence in the state of Kansas.”
The conversation then moved to the topic of Mental Health Awareness month. Kagay was asked what the impact of mental health was on the social justice system.
“Well, within the criminal justice system, mental health is an ongoing concern,” Kagay said. “But, community-wide, state-wide… it’s a concern everywhere. We can all do better when it comes to mental health.”
27 News continued with a question about Austin Burris, a man who was taken into police custody after an injury accident left one woman in critical condition.
“A lot of people don’t understand that when you’re looking at a felony offense based on the severity of the conviction and in conjunction with the offender’s criminal history, that outcome determines whether somebody is going to receive prison, likely, or probation,” Kagay said. “And in the case of Mr. Burris, what we see is that he is currently facing a level 5 aggravated battery, that’s the most serious charge that he faces in the current case.”
“I can’t speak to the court specifically, but I can tell you how we feel in the DA’s office and certainly I’m sure that Dwane’s family is relieved that Mr. Mendez has now been convicted in a court of law and they can go back to celebrating who Dwane was as a person and treasuring him, his memory and not being concerned about whether his killer is held accountable,” Kagay said.
“Again, the most serious conviction for Mr. Huggins was felony murder,” Kagay said. “So the same answer that we talked about in the last section which is 25 years before the possibility of parole, but he does have a number of other serious felony charges that are in play there and so our request for the sentencing in court is to run all of those consecutive to each other. So, we’re not just asking for the 25, we’re asking for the maximum penalty under the law.”
Finally, 27 News asked Kagay about what his thoughts were regarding the recent school shooting that took place in Texas.
“It’s heartbreaking, you know, to think about kids in that situation and to think about the families, what they’re going through,” Kagay said. “I can’t imagine something worse as a parent. We had a situation here locally that kind of brings this into even sharper focus earlier this year at Landon Middle School where, because of the actions of an alert student and faculty and law enforcement we were able to prevent something from occurring and I’m not saying that it would’ve been the same, but its scary.”