Grand Juries Would Be Allowed Under Kansas Bill

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ County prosecutors could convene grand juries to deal with serious crimes such as murder under a House bill.

Under state law, grand juries can be convened only by a district judge or through a citizen petition.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Lance Kinzer, said prosecutors should be able to use grand juries to avoid a preliminary hearing, where many details can be made public before a trial.

The Olathe Republican's bill was prompted by the 2007 kidnapping and murder of 18-year-old Kelsey Smith in Johnson County. A grand jury in session at the time indicted Edwin Hall, who was sentenced last year to life in prison without parole.

That grand jury was prompted by a citizen petition.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)