MIAMI COUNTY, Ind. — Sometimes it’s just as important in covering a court hearing to listen to what isn’t said as much as what is.
If Peru’s possession of child sexual abuse material defendant Kegan Kline was trying to deal himself a potential plea bargain in exchange for information about the murders of Abby Williams and Libby German in Delphi more than five years ago, it would appear those efforts have come up short.
On Thursday, Miami Circuit Court Judge Timothy Spahr told Kline’s lawyer and the State to be ready for the January 18, 2023 trial of the Peru man on 30 counts of possession of child pornography, child exploitation and obstruction of justice at a hearing that was delayed more than a month because Attorney Anthony Achey told the Court during the summer that he was involved in “negotiations” with the Miami County Prosecutor on his client’s behalf.
Those “negotiations” would have been taking place during the same month Indiana State Troopers started diving into the Wabash River in Peru looking for evidence.
”About the same time the original hearing was scheduled we saw some pretty intense searches going on, a search of the Wabash River and the search of the fire pit at the home of Kegan Kline’s grandparents,” said Kevin Greenlee, an attorney, and host of the podcast THE MURDER SHEET which has delved into the Delphi murders. “Perhaps those searches were not as successful as they might like.”
”At this point, our sources have not indicated that any actionable evidence was yielded from those different aspects of the investigation,” said podcast partner Aine Cain.
During a pre-trial hearing that lasted barely ten minutes and found Kline and his attorney participating via video conferencing from the Miami County Jail, no reference was made to the negotiations, the hearing delay, any cooperation of Kline with investigators, or reasons to postpone the proceedings.
“This was a very terse meeting,” said Cain who observed from the front row of the courtroom gallery. “The attorneys were very brief. Nobody had any questions or ask for any extra time. No one indicated that negotiations were ongoing so if there were any negotiations between the prosecution and the defense at this point, this meeting gave no indication that they’re still on.”
”There was no talk of any plea bargain,” said Greenlee. “There was no talk of any negotiation still being in progress. It was still full speed ahead.”
Judge Spahr told the Prosecution to provide the Defense Discovery of its evidence by early November with an eye on a final pre-trial hearing on December 22nd.
”You would have imagined if some sort of plea deal had been struck it would have been mentioned today,” said Cain. “Instead, we get just told the trial is ongoing, full steam ahead eventually.”
The maximum sentence Kline faces on the most serious charge, a Level 4 Child Exploitation felony, carries a 12-year term, though conviction on all counts could result in merged, consecutive, or concurrent sentencing.
A Plea Agreement could result in a conviction on a single charge dependent upon the level of the defendant’s cooperation with prosecutors.
The approach of the December pre-trial hearing could motivate both sides to consider a potential Plea Agreement that would negate the preparation over the holidays of a January trial that would certainly provide a challenge to the Court in its attempt to seat a jury from the community that would reserve judgment regarding the highly publicized defendant and case.
Judge Spahr told assembled reporters in the courtroom that he would set aside a day previous to the trial to acclimate the media to case logistics in anticipation of the coverage that might result.
Meanwhile, the Delphi investigation continues on a parallel track with no update from ISP.
”We got the indication that there is a very robust investigation going on into the Kline lead regarding the Delphi murders,” said Cain, “and it may be a matter of they’re picking up a lot of pieces and putting them together over time, and even if nothing blockbuster happened this time around, it doesn’t mean its necessarily stalled out.”