Murder and child-abuse charges against the parents and baby sitter of 9-year-old Brian Edgar were filed Friday in Johnson County District Court.
Wyandotte County prosecutors immediately dismissed murder charges against Neil Edgar Sr.; his wife, Christy Edgar; and their 19-year-old baby sitter, Chasity Boyd.
Wyandotte County also dismissed charges against the Edgars of abusing three of their other children.
The difference in the Johnson and Wyandotte county charges is that, as part of the new filing, Boyd is now charged with abusing two other Edgar children. She had not faced those charges in Wyandotte County.
The first-degree, felony murder charges filed Friday allege that Brian died "on or about" Dec. 30 at the Edgar family's home in Overland Park. The charges allege that the Edgars and Boyd inflicted "cruel and inhuman corporal punishment" on Brian.
He allegedly was gagged with a sock and duct tape and bound around the chest and arms when he was put to bed Dec. 29, according to court documents. An autopsy determined that he died of asphyxiation.
The murder charge does not allege that Brian was killed intentionally; under Kansas law, first-degree murder charges can be filed because his death allegedly occurred during the "inherently dangerous" crime of child abuse.
Conviction on the murder charge carries a sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for 20 years.
The Edgars and Boyd are charged with felony counts of child abuse against two other children, a 9-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy. No charges were filed in Johnson County involving a third son, who is 16.
The Edgars, pastors at God's Creation Outreach Ministry in Kansas City, Kan., had adopted all four children.
Brian was dead when Neil Edgar took him to KU Med on the morning of Dec. 30. Edgar initially told police that the boy had died at a house in Kansas City, Kan. But additional evidence, including another statement by Neil Edgar and statements by the surviving children, indicated that the death occurred at the house the Edgars had rented at 15718 Birch St. in Overland Park.
According to court documents, the children said their parents and Boyd routinely bound them before bed and put Neosporin on the marks to minimize scarring.
Lawyers for the Edgars said they were glad that authorities had decided which jurisdiction was appropriate so they could concentrate on preparing their defenses.
Carl Cornwell, who represents Neil Edgar, said he hoped people would remain open-minded until they hear all the evidence.
"There is another side to this story that will come out at the appropriate time," Cornwell said.
Christy Edgar's lawyer, Bob L. Thomas, said only that he hoped the case could now be moved along.
Boyd had a court-appointed lawyer in Wyandotte County but will likely be represented by the public defender's office in Johnson County. She is being represented by that office in a pending theft case.
It was the death of another Johnson County child at the hands of an abuser in 1986 that led to the felony murder law that prosecutors used Friday.
Robert Lynn Lucas was convicted in 1987 of first-degree, felony murder in the death of 20-month-old Shaina Woodside, but the Kansas Supreme Court threw out the conviction.
The court ruled that the crime of child abuse merged with the crime of murder. For a first-degree, felony murder conviction, the crime that supported the murder charge had to be separate and distinct, the justices ruled.
The Kansas Legislature amended the law and specifically made child abuse an "underlying" crime to support a felony murder charge.
The change could not be retroactively applied to Lucas' case. He pleaded no contest and was found guilty of the lesser crime of voluntary manslaughter.
Lucas, 48, was paroled in 2000, according to Department of Corrections records.
Johnson County deputies picked up the Edgars and Boyd from the Wyandotte County jail and took them to Johnson County late Friday afternoon.
Their initial Johnson County court appearances are scheduled for Monday afternoon. Bond for each is still set at $2 million.