burberry mens polo shirts First day of testimony wraps up in trial of Hutch teen accused of killing mother and sister in house fire
“For the defendant had formed a plan for several days, weeks or months of which he had thoughts about killing one or all of his family members,” Maxwell said to the jury. “And he thought about this plan as you’ll hear for days or a time period before this night and ultimately that night, he decided to carry out or execute his plan.”
Maxwell said Samuel Vonachen waited until his family was all asleep before executing the plan.
“He then went downstairs, taking along with him his prized possessions,” Maxwell argued. “His guitar, his blanket, his phone, wearing his new clothes that had just been purchased. He put all these prized possessions on the front porch because he didn’t want them to get damaged. For what he was about to do and his plan was he went to the garage of the family home, he opened the garage, out of the garage he retrieved a can of gasoline.”
Maxwell said from there, he poured gasoline in a U shape in front of the stairs at least twice saying Vonachen told police he did so “in an effort to be thorough.” Maxwell said Vonachen put the gas can on the porch before lighting the fire and leaving the home.
From there, Maxwell said Samuel Vonachen called 911 and used a different name to report the fire. The state played the 911 call in the courtroom as it called the director of the 911 center in Reno County to testify explaining how the system worked.
In the call, Vonachen tells the dispatcher the address of the fire. The dispatcher asks if everyone is out and he says no. The dispatcher asks who is inside and he replies, “just some people.” He told the dispatcher he didn’t know whose house it was.
As the fire began to burn, Maxwell said Steve Vonachen heard the smoke alarm and was able to get out and go to a neighbor to call 911. Steve’s wife and daughter wouldn’t survive the fire.
Maxwell said Samuel Vonachen was missing when emergency crews began to put out the flames and search the home. He said it was nearly two hours before an officer sees him and speaks to him, identifying who he is.
Once a medic was able to check Samuel Vonachen, Maxwell said he showed signs of high blood pressure and a Hutchinson Police Officer took him to Hutchinson Regional Medical Center where he took his clothes off to wear a hospital gown for further examination.
The officer that took him to the hospital smelled gasoline on Samuel Vonachen’s clothes, as he would later testify. Maxwell said the officer then took the clothes and cell phone for investigation.
Maxwell said after it was determined Samuel Vonachen was okay, officers questioned him and he said he didn’t know what happened. At that time, they allowed his father, Steve, to take him home and called an ATF agent to the scene.
After sending samples to the ATF laboratory from the home and Vonachen’s clothes, Maxwell said they found remnants of gasoline on both.
Maxwell said once Vonachen became a suspect, police called him for an interview where he confessed to the crime. The confession is on video. Maxwell said Vonachen told officers he did it because people were evil and he wanted them to die. He said Vonachen said he didn’t have any mental diseases, he just wanted people to die.
He’s asking for a guilty verdict from the jury.
John Henderson, Samuel Vonachen’s defense attorney, then took to the podium to address the jurors with his opening statements.
He began by describing Vonachen as a 14 year old boy. He spoke about how he had just finished 8th grade, had recently gone to a church summer camp with his friends and he was looking forward to starting high school. He said Samuel Vonachen loved his family and they loved him too.
Henderson spoke of the evening of the fire saying Vonachen was on his iPhone downloading a song his mother had just gotten for him as a ringtone.
After the fire, Henderson said Vonachen called 911 to report what had happened but used a fake name. That name was Dominic Seeth (spelling may not be accurate of fake name).
“You will meet Dominic Seeth,” Henderson told the jury. “There are drawings of Dominic Seeth. Along with drawings of figures, humanoid figures with not one head but two heads. You will see in that same book of drawings the letters I, M, I, N, S, A, N, E.”
Henderson speaks extensively about the blue baby blanket Vonachen had clutched in his hands for much of the aftermath of the fire. He said when Samuel Vonachen walked up to the police officer, he was holding the blanket. He said when Vonachen was in the police vehicle to go to the hospital, he had the blanket wrapped around him and he was examined with it.
He said while in the police car, just moments before the officer opened the door for him to get out, he said “stop, stop” to himself and hit himself in the head.
“At the detention center, staff reported daily Sam’s behavior,” Henderson said. “He is reported at one instance shortly after this event talking to himself for two hours. On another occasion, talking to an orange.”
Henderson said interviews with Samuel Vonachen’s family, teachers and others showed most called him a normal 14 year old so Henderson asked, what happened between the time he was looking at that ringtone and the time he called 911.
Henderson showed an interview with Steve Vonachen, Samuel’s father, in which he called Samuel a normal 14 year old. Henderson said Steve said everybody loved everybody in the family.
Henderson went on to talk about the autopsy. He said one autopsy showed Karla, Samuel’s mother, was intoxicated. He said Steve said she had at least 12 beers.
In Audrey’s room, Henderson said investigators found ripped up pages of what appeared to be a diary. He said when put back together, it read, “I think they’ll be fighting tonight,” and went on to say other loving things about the family and about her brother, Samuel.
“The law provides a defense of mental disease or defect,” Henderson said to the jury. “The judge will instruct you on that defense and after you’ve heard all the evidence, we will ask you to find Sam not guilty. Not guilty because of a mental disease or defect.”.