The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 20, 1996 · Page 8
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 8

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Saturday, January 20, 1996
Page 8
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A8 SATURDAY, JANUARY 20, 1996 CRIME THE SAUNA JOURNAL V RANDALL SHERIDAN MURDER Defendants say sex and religion keep them from fair trial Attorneys say publicity has tainted jurors; they seek change of venue By DAVID CLOUSTON The Salina Journal JUNCTION CITY — Sex, religion and the alleged role of both in a 1992 homicide make it impossible for three accused members of a Salina church to be tried fairly in Geary County, their attorneys challenged Friday. Attorney Lee McMaster brandished a sheaf of newspaper articles as he argued that published stories have tainted potential ju- T DRUG-SNIFFING DOGS Motel 6 search under fire Man says constitutional rights at stake; chief says it keeps drugs out By SHARON MONTAGUE Tlie Salina Journal Rick Mueller doesn't know the Arizona couple arrested Monday after Salina police found a 30- pound brick of marijuana in the trunk of a car. But the method police used in sniffing out the marijuana raised Mueller's ire enough that he plans to ask the Kansas Attorney General to investigate the case. "I'm concerned about constitutional rights," Mueller said. "This makes me think we're headed toward a police state." A police officer was using a trained dog to sniff cars in the parking lot of Motel 6, 635 W. Diamond early Monday. When the dog indicated there was marijuana in a vehicle, the officer contacted the owners and received permission to search. The search yielded the marijuana brick, worth an estimated $96,000, and the couple were arrested. Salina Police Chief Jim Hill said using the dog to sniff cars for drugs is an extension of the common practice of driving through parking lots and checking license tag numbers. Officers find plenty of stolen cars or wanted people through that practice, he said. Hill compared using dogs in parking lots to having dogs sniff luggage before citizens are allowed to fly on commercial airlines. "Parking lots are quasi-public property," Hill said. The officer at the Motel 6 didn't enter any car without the owner's permission, Hill said. Had the owner denied permission to search, the officer could have gotten a search warrant from a judge on the basis of the dog's indication that drugs were present. "We're not going into someone's driveway and checking their cars," HUl said. But Mueller contends that checking motel parking lots is exactly like checking cars parked in a private driveway. "If you rent a motel room, it's like renting a house, and that parking space you rent, too," he said. "It becomes your property as long as you're staying there. "I would expect privacy and for them to have a search warrant." The "expectation of privacy" is the issue when deciding whether such drug-sniffing excursions would be legal, according to Mary Horsch, spokesman for the Kansas Attorney General's Office. In, say, a shopping mall parking lot, which is considered a public place, having a dog'sniff cars would be acceptable, Horsch said. But Horsch was unsure, after checking with several attorneys, whether one could expect a greater sense of privacy in a motel parking lot. It's not a difficult question for Dick Kurtenbach, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri. He agrees with Mueller that a motel parking space is like your driveway. "In our judgment, the police are going too far," Kurtenbach said. "We need to be concerned about where these things are headed. "We'd like it if they were never allowed to use these (dogs) to develop probable cause for a search." Hill defended the practice, saying motel parking lots are "quasi- public" places and using drug dogs to sniff cars in such places stems drug trade in the city. Had police not confiscated the 30 pounds of marijuana in the trunk of the car Monday, that marijuana might have been sold on the streets of Salina, he said. "Citizens should be comfortable knowing that we're doing everything we can to keep drugs out of our community," Hill said. "If you don't have drugs, you don't have to worry about your rights." rors in the Randall Sheridan murder case. "We have the two most titillating, exciting things imaginable interwoven with the facts of this case. We have religion • and we have sex, followed with the accusation of murder," said McMaster, attorney for Michael Dreiling, in Geary County District Court. Seven months after they were bound over for trial for the shotgun slaying of Sheridan, the leader of the Fountain of Life Church, Jerry Rollins, 57, and church members Dana Flynn, 34, and her brother, Dreiling, 23, appeared with their attorneys to ask that then: consolidated trial be moved. All three defendants are charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit perjury. They have remained free on bond since their arrest. • Six other defendants, all relatives of the three murder suspects, are charged with perjury stemming from the investigation into the homicide. Those cases are pending. A ruling on the change of venue motion was postponed, but Administrative Judge Michael Powers tentatively scheduled the trial to begin July 8. Sheridan, 40, an agricultural lime salesman, was gunned down Dec. 22, 1992, by five shotgun blasts as he jogged near his rural Junction City home. His death came amid a bitter custody dispute with his ex-lover, Elynn, for their young daughter. Authorities think Flynn, her alleged minister-lover.Rollins, and Dreiling conspired to kill Sheridan so Flynn would be granted full custody of the girl. "They could have killed Sheridan, so they must have. (Rollins and Flynn) have sex, Sheridan was shot, they probably did it. That's their case, judge," McMaster said. Published statements by Geary County^ Sheriff Bill Deppish and former Salina Police Captain Gary .Hindman, now a Saline County commissioner, added to that notion, McMaster alleged. Deppish told a reporter that Rollins "started shaking so bad he could hardly function," and, "They must've known that we were getting close," in describing ah encounter he had with Rollins and Flynn at a restaurant prior to their arrests. Hindman, who investigated Rollins' background, described Rollins to a reporter as "a swindler who uses his religious position for personal gain and sexual pleasure." Geary County Attorney Chris Biggs said Deppish's statements were unfortunate. Although the defense argued that the law officers' statements would carry weight in potential jurors' minds, Biggs argued the defense had not demonstrated that anyone had been prejudiced by what they read. Most of the newspaper articles presented by McMaster were from the Salina Journal, the Wichita Eagle and the Kansas City Star. "The presentation of newspaper articles assumes people read the articles and that they believe everything they read, which I don't think are correct assumptions," Biggs said. "This is like a fish story. But they haven't presented evidence of the catch, that there's actual prejudice in Geary County." GET READY FOR THE CLEARANCE plus S 50 REBATE STEREO TV RECORDS DSS PROGRAMS! 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