TOPEKA (WIBW)--- A Shawnee County corrections officer suffered an onslaught of injuries when she was fatally attacked while off duty at a west central Topeka home on November 1, a forensic pathologist testified Friday.
Following a preliminary hearing, defendant Jeremy Erin Lardner, 36, was bound over Friday to be tried on first-degree murder in the beating death of Brandi Prchal and a misdemeanor count of domestic battery, Shawnee County District Court Judge Nancy Parrish ruled.
The judge said there wasn't probable cause to bind over Lardner on a charge of making a criminal threat.
Dr. John Ralston testified that the victim, Prchal, 36, suffered a minimum of 32 injuries, including a fractured neck, a fracture of a small bone in the neck, 22 rib fractures, overlapping bruises on the head, back and chest, lacerations of the liver, and bruising around the aorta.
"This would be many, many blows," Ralston said. This was a "severe manual assault." Ralston, who is a forensic pathologist in Kansas City, Kansas, referred to the injuries as multiple blunt force trauma.
Prchal didn't suffer any injuries caused by gunshot wounds or sharp force injury, Ralston testified.
Elizabeth Adkins testified Lardner called her at about 8 a.m. on November 1, asking her to come to his small house at 928 S.W. Warren and emphasizing he needed her.
When she arrived, Lardner was "hysterical" and made Adkins promise she would take care of his dog. Adkins stepped inside his house.
"I saw her legs sticking out from the blankets and (saw) blood on the floor" in the adjacent bedroom, Adkins said. Someone in the courtroom gasped at that testimony.
Adkins didn't recognize whose legs they were."I assumed (the body) was Brandi," Adkins testified, and she didn't know whether the body had been beaten.
Meanwhile, Lardner was upset and crying. "I asked him what happened," Adkins said. "He kept saying, 'What am I going to do?' "
Lardner ordered Adkins to leave the Warren home before she got involved. Lardner and Adkins searched the back yard for his two dogs, but they were gone, Adkins testified.
When Adkins smelled natural gas, she asked Lardner to turn off the gas, but the odor of gas never decreased while she was there.
Lardner wanted a gun "so he could shoot himself," Adkins said. She didn't own a gun and didn't know where to obtain one.
Shawnee County Sheriff's Deputy Trevor LaFarge testified he came into contact with Adkins early on November 1 at her job at the Petro Deli, N.W. 46 and US-75. LaFarge had stopped at the deli as part of his shift.
Adkins thought Lardner was dead as well as Prchal.
LaFarge reviewed the sheriff's department computer and saw a death investigation was underway at the S.W. Warren address. The deputy relayed the information to investigators from Adkins.
Prchal, a corrections officer at the Shawnee County Jail, was scheduled to work an overtime shift starting at 2 a.m. on November 1, then her regular shift starting at 6 a.m. When she didn't arrive at 2 a.m., Sgt. Chris Cortez, a third shift supervisor at the jail, attempted to call Prchal, then left a message when she didn't pick up the phone.
Prchal had worked for six months at the county department of corrections before her death, Cortez testified. Cortez recalled that Prchal had had a black eye for several days while she was a corrections officer. Cortez never talked to Prchal about her personal life, he said.
When firefighters from the Topeka Fire Department arrived at the S.W. Warren house on November 1, a man and a woman were lying side by side under a blanket, fire Captain Diane Hawkins testified.
Prchal was dead, and Lardner was unconscious. The odor of natural gas was strong.