WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) —Marion County Record attorney Bernie Rhodes said the paper will receive data that was copied onto a USB drive from its computers by investigators.

Rhodes provided an update around 5 p.m. on Thursday on the situation. He said he was told, “the actual drive is not being physically returned to the paper because the drive contains data from other sheriff’s investigations. The contents of the drive that were taken from the Record are being copied on a new drive that is being given to the paper, and then the actual drive itself is being physically destroyed.”

Rhodes had said if the situation wasn’t resolved, he would have filed to put the sheriff in contempt of court.

“The Sheriff’s failure to comply with the District Court’s order is inexcusable and I will not stand by and wait for you to choose to return my many calls,” a letter to Marion County counselor Bradley Jantz reads. “Unless you and I are able to come to a satisfactory agreement by the end of the day tomorrow, Thursday, August 24, 2023, on disposition of this—and any other item(s) not previously released and returned—I will file a motion to hold the Sheriff in contempt of court for his failure to comply with the District Court’s order.”

Rhodes claimed he has made multiple attempts to talk to Sheriff Jeff Soyez with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. The letter says a forensic examiner was dispatched after a district judge ordered the evidence in the search warrant be returned.

“That same day, Undersheriff Larry Starkey transferred custody of what he represented were the items seized to the examiner,” the letter read.

The letter states both Starkey and the examiner sign a “Data Forensic Chain of Custody Form.” This form, attached below, shows the items that were seized and then returned. The examiner placed an X on one side of the line items — of which there are eight — and his initials on the other.

The documents attached above show the signatures of Starkey, along with the forensic investigator Jack Nevins, dated Aug. 16. 2023.

This document, however, is not the same one found on the Marion County District Court website. That document, which can be viewed by clicking the link, shows nine items without the forensic examiner’s initials.

Rhodes said in the letter both documents are signed by a Marion police officer and dated Aug. 11, 2023, but one has eight items, and one has nine.

That ninth item reads “OS TRIAGE DIGITAL DATA.” Rhodes says the item appears to be a USB drive with OSForensics software from PassMark Software. It appears, according to Rhodes, “someone used this drive to copy or clone data from one or more computers owned by the Record.”

“While the apparent alteration of the inventory list raises serious questions, what is clear is that
Item 9 on the inventory posted by the Court has not been ‘released and returned,’ as the Court
ordered,” the letter states.

For more of KSN’s coverage on the Marion County Record, click here.