Attempted murder case in question after key witness gets electrocuted

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LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- The family of a Leavenworth woman electrocuted after crashing her car into a utility pole Wednesday hopes the attempted murder case against her ex-boyfriend still goes forward. 25-year-old Lachelle Kemp died after crashing her car near Seventh and Olive Streets in Leavenworth. The accident came four months after she was nearly stabbed to death in a convenience store parking lot at 501 Limit Street.

Prosecutors charged her ex-boyfriend, 27-year-old Richard Bennett, with two counts of attempted murder because Kemp was seven months pregnant with the couple's daughter.

Lea Kemp, the mother of Lachelle, said her daughter's death should be no excuse to dismiss the pending case against Bennett.

"I want him to know that he cannot go around hurting other women and I feel if he gets out he's going to hurt someone else," Kemp said.

Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson said for legal reasons he can't confirm if he plans to pursue the case without his victim and star witness. But he admits it is possible Bennett's defense attorney may seek to have the charges dismissed at a hearing October 31st.

"It's an active case. What happened to Ms. Kemp is a tragedy and we'll look forward to the hearings as they come," said Thompson.

Matt O'Connor is a Kansas City defense attorney who's not connected to the Bennett case. He told FOX 4, "It's always better to have a witness live and in person testify. It's much more compelling, especially in a case like this, you're talking about stab wounds."

But O'Connor added that because Lachelle Kemp already testified at a preliminary hearing, prosecutors still have a case, even if Bennett's defense no longer has a live person to cross-examine.

"They had an opportunity to cross-examine the person testifying, now deceased person, at the preliminary hearing," O'Connor said.

Lea Kemp said it's important to her that Bennett not get off without at least a trial.

"He hurt my daughter, he really hurt my daughter. He put my daughter through so much stress and so much pain. She suffered every day because she didn't know why Richard Bennett tried to kill her," she said.

FOX 4 tried to reach Bennett's attorney, Clinton Lee, to ask if he will file a motion to dismiss the charges but he never returned our calls. Bennett's trial, if it goes forward, is scheduled for November 4th.

email: rob.low@wdaftv4.com
twitter: @RobLowTV

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