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Edwin Hall Pleads Guilty To Kelsey Smith Murder

Edwin Hall Pleads Guilty To Kelsey Smith Murder

In a surprising twist to a Johnson County murder that gained nationwide attention, Edwin Hall pleaded guilty this afternoon to killing Kelsey Smith.

Hall stood before Judge Peter Ruddick as he entered guilty pleas to charges of capital murder, aggravated kidnapping, rape and aggravated criminal sodomy.

For the murder charge, he faces life in prison with no chance of parole. For each of the other three counts, the range of punishment is 147 to 653 months.

Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline told the court about DNA gathered in the case. The best match was found inside the zipper flap of the shorts that Hall wore the night that Kelsey disappared. There’s less than one chance in 280 billion that the material came from anyone other than Kelsey, Kline said.

Investigators also found Hall’s DNA on the steering wheel of Kelsey’s car. Kline said there was only a chance of 1 in 5.3 million that the DNA was from someone other than Hall.

More than 100 people crammed into the small courtroom including 17 youths in blue T-shirts that said, “Kelsey’s Army” on the front and “We’re still here.”

That’s a reference to the many friends of the victim who organized searches after her disappearance last year, and they continue to follow her case.

Members of Kelsey’s family wept as Hall admitted to the crimes.

Today’s 1:30 p.m. hearing had been expected to be routine. Attorneys planned to argue on whether the mid-September trial should be delayed.

But this morning, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department said it was planning extra security for the hearing.

Hall was arrested June 6, four days after Smith was kidnapped from an Overland Park Target store where she went on an errand. She had graduated from Shawnee Mission West High School 10 days earlier.

Authorities located Smith’s body near Longview Lake in southern Jackson County on June 6 after tracking cell phone pings from Smith’s phone.

For more than three days, her family and friends had no clue what had happened to the girl who was never afraid to give her opinion, who loved to sing and perform and play clarinet. In the hot sun, they walked neighborhoods within a five-mile radius of the Target store, determined to find Kelsey.

Hall, 27, will be sentenced on Sept. 16, the day he had been scheduled for trial.

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