• Last modified 300 days ago (Aug. 17, 2023)


Newspaper equipment returned

Staff writer

Computers, cell phones, and other electronic equipment grabbed by police during a raid Friday on the Marion County Record office and the home of its owners were released Wednesday under an agreement between the Record’s lawyer and the director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

A warrant for the search had been obtained by Marion police chief Gideon Cody with assistance from county attorney Joel Ensey.

Kansas City lawyer Bernie Rhodes told the Record at 11 a.m. that KBI director Tony Mattivi had said Ensey would bring the Record a news release that would later be given to other news outlets. The Record’s equipment would then be released.

Ensey did not show up at any time Wednesday. Instead, KBI issued a general public press release at 12:30 p.m.

According to KBI’s release, “At present time this investigation remains open, however, we have determined in collaboration with the Marion County attorney, that the investigation will proceed independently, and without review or examination of any of the evidence seized on Friday, Aug. 11.”

KBI spokesman Melissa Underwood said findings would be given to the county attorney for review.

An attached press release from the county attorney admitted that he had reviewed warrant applications three days after the searches and seizures.

“Upon further review, however, I have come to the conclusion that insufficient evidence exists to establish a legally sufficient nexus between this alleged crime and the places searched and the items seized,” Ensey wrote. “As a result, I have submitted a proposed order asking the court to release the evidence seized. I have asked local law enforcement to return the material seized to the owners of the property.”

Despite Ensey’s statement, vice mayor Ruth Herbel, whose home also was raided Friday, said her property had not been released.

By arrangement between the Record’s lawyer and the sheriff’s office, the Record’s equipment was released to a forensic investigator for examination to confirm or deny that the equipment had not been reviewed or examined, as Underwood said. A Record reporter observed the release of property to the investigator.

Last modified Aug. 17, 2023