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The Kansas City Star
September 9, 1994
Author: The Associated Press
TOPEKA – Shawnee County Juvenile Court Judge Daniel Mitchell on Thursday ordered Christopher Rice, 16, held without bond in connection with the killings of his mother and younger sister.
His bond had been set at $1 million on Wednesday. His next court date is Sept. 20, when he could enter a plea to two first-degree murder charges.
Also on Thursday, Shawnee County District Attorney Joan Hamilton filed papers with the court seeking to certify Rice as an adult. He could face a minimum of 50 years in prison if tried as an adult and found guilty of both murders.
Hamilton said that if Rice is tried as a juvenile, the state would be able to keep him in custody only until his 21st birthday – a little more than four years – for a double homicide.
Rice cannot receive the death penalty under Kansas’ new capital punishment law, which took effect July 1, because a provision prohibits executing anyone who was less than 18 when the crime was committed.
He will not qualify for the state’s so-called Hard 40 sentence – serving 40 years without possibility of parole – also because of his age.
Prosecutors and police still were trying to sort out what happened Tuesday before Samuel Rice, Christopher’s father, arrived at his spacious southwest Topeka home and discovered the bodies of his wife, Jayne Rice, 42, and daughter, Leslie Rice, 13.
“My word for it is ‘senseless,’ ” Hamilton said during a Thursday press conference. “It was very gruesome. It was almost an overkill of both victims. ” Jayne Rice was found in an entryway that links the front door to the garage. She apparently had been beaten with a baseball bat, which lay beside her. She also had been stabbed, and she was strangled with a piece of plastic tubing.
“She was taken by surprise,” Hamilton said. “She was either on her way out or on her way in. ” The daughter was found in a bathroom, where she was bruised around the nose and strangled, her glasses broken. Again, white plastic tubing was found around her neck.
Neighbors saw the younger Rice leave the house in the family car about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. The boy’s father discovered the bodies when he returned from a business trip about four hours later.
Christopher Rice was arrested Wednesday near Wellington while he was heading toward Oklahoma in the family’s car.
Hamilton said investigators don’t know what caused the violence.
The Topeka Capital-Journal , citing court records, reported that Christopher Rice had a history of being abusive toward his mother.
The youth had a prescription for medication for depression, the district attorney said.
“The father has indicated there had been some normal problems that adolescents and parents have,” Hamilton said, but she added that the older Rice had sought psychiatric help for his son.
Hamilton also indicated there was no indication of drug or alcohol abuse.
“We don’t know very much about the family,” she said. “They have not been in Kansas very long. ” The elder Rice is a Santa Fe Railway employee who transferred from Arlington, Texas, about three weeks ago.
Copyright 1994, 1996 The Kansas City Star Co.
Record Number: 252421