Topeka Cold Case Intensifies

By: Rae Chelle Davis Email
By: Rae Chelle Davis Email
The murder case of Karen Estes intensified when the lead detective testified that Theodore Netherland did not kill Estes, in his opinion.

Randy Mills worked the case on behalf of the Topeka Police Department.

Judge Evelyn Wilson's office says she denied a defense motion asking her to hand over access to the prosecution's case file. The hearing delayed jury selection and now the trial may not start until Wednesday.

Around 100 jurors stood waiting to enter Judge Evelyn Wilson's courtroom Monday afternoon. Most had no idea what they were there for and simply wanted to be excused.

Just before 1:30 they were escorted into the chambers where they took their seats. Moments later the defense attorney entered followed by 38-year-old Theodore Netherland. He was not wearing handcuffs or shackles, only a jumpsuit. Once Judge Wilson entered the jury selection began. It is expected to take all afternoon.

The prosecution says Netherland stabbed Karen Estes to death in 1989. It was October and Estes was visiting friends at the Hillcrest Community Center. She was fatally stabbed s10 times in her mid section. Police conducted an investigation but the case turned cold.

Then, in February 1996 the once cold case got warm. District Attorney Robert Hecht received a tip. In March he received a second tip, both in the form of letters. Police opened the case back up and this time it led to the indictment and arrest of Theodore Netherland.

As Netherland was being taken into custody he confessed on camera to 13 News that he had done it because of voices in his head (see video of confession at the top of this story).

Netherland's attorney claimed the indictment should have been thrown out citing the Grand Jury that indicted Netherland was called to discuss pornography indictments and not Netherland's murder case. The Kansas Supreme Court disagreed and the case moved forward.

In 2007 a hearing was scheduled to determine if Netherland was competent to stand trial on first-degree murder charges. District Judge Evelyn Wilson ruled Netherland would stand trial. A psychologist had testified that Netherland was not competent while a psychiatrist said that he was.


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