Kansas Commune Leader To Stand Trial For Murder

By: CBS/AP (Posted by Kion Hudson)
By: CBS/AP (Posted by Kion Hudson)

(CBS/AP)-- Daniel Perez, the self-proclaimed leader of a Kansas commune that lived off the life insurance payouts of its deceased members, has been ordered to stand trial on a charge of premeditated first-degree murder.

Perez is accused in the 2003 death of Patricia Hughes at a compound near Wichita. It was initially listed as accidental.

According to CBS affiliate KWCH, Perez, who also goes by Lou Castro, is accused of 38 crimes in all, including rape, sodomy, sexual exploitation of a child and making false statements on life insurance claims.

Defense lawyers contended there was not enough evidence to put Perez on trial.

Sedgwick County District Judge Clark Owens disagreed and scheduled a jury trial for July 30.

Owens entered the order Thursday at the end of a preliminary hearing for the 52-year-old Perez.

The suspect did not speak at Thursday's proceeding. The judge entered not guilty pleas on his Perez's behalf to charges including murder, rape, sodomy, sexual exploitation of a child and lying on life insurance applications.

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