Archive for Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Plea entered in fatal accident; federal officials take suspect

July 3, 2007

A Lansing man pleaded not guilty Wednesday morning in Leavenworth County District Court to several traffic violations in connection with an accident that claimed the life of a Tonganoxie woman.

The defendant, 21-year-old Ricardo DeLeon Flores, was escorted out of the Leavenworth County Justice Center in handcuffs -- not by sheriff's officers but by two Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, according to a justice center official.

Flores appeared in court for failing to yield at a stop sign, excessive speed and having no valid driver's license.

The court appearance stemmed from an accident the night of Feb. 14 at 158th Street and U.S. Highway 24-40. According to sheriff's reports, Flores was driving his Dodge Durango north on 158th Street when his vehicle struck a Dodge Durango and then a Ford Taurus, which was driven by Amanda Bixby of Tonganoxie.

Bixby, who was driving home to Tonganoxie from Nebraska Furniture Mart where she was employed, was killed in the accident.

Flores' attorney, John Harvell, addressed the court on behalf of his client and entered the not guilty plea. Flores was seated in the courtroom, but did not approach the bench.

About 20 of Bixby's supporters, including her parents, Dennis and Denise Bixby, were in the courtroom and all were wearing buttons bearing her photo.

After Flores' appearance, Bixby's supporters met with Leavenworth County Attorney Frank Kohl in an adjacent conference room, while Flores and his attorney were greeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. The two immigration officials asked to see Flores' identification. Minutes later he left the courtroom floor with them.

Asked whether Flores was a U.S. citizen, Deborah Owens of the Leavenworth County Attorney's Office said she had no knowledge of his citizenship status.

A justice center official later confirmed that immigration agents escorted Flores out of the building, and that he was wearing handcuffs.

The Mirror placed calls Monday to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office in Chicago, which handles cases involving Kansas, but could not reach anyone for information about Flores.

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