In a court proceeding that lasted just two minutes and nine seconds, Jereme Nelson, charged with three murders near Alta Mills between Hesston and Moundridge, waived his right to a preliminary hearing and learned when the next step in the legal process will take place.
Nelson appeared in court at 9:05 a.m. Wednesday at the Harvey County Courthouse. Appearing without visible restraints and in a blue dress shirt with navy dress pants in front of a smattering of family members of his alleged victims and increased security, Nelson hardly spoke — but he did not need to.
His legal counsel, appointed from the Death Penalty Defense Unit, met with prosecutors and Judge Joe Dickenson to waive the preliminary hearing and set a date for arraignment.
"You understand that (in a preliminary hearing) it would be up to the state of Kansas to show probable cause to believe you committed the crimes you were charged with?" Dickenson asked.
Nelson replied with a yes, and moved forward with waiving the hearing.
Increased security was evident — not only were there extra Sheriff's deputies in and around the courtroom, the Sheriff's Office added a metal detector with a pair of officers screening everyone entering the courtroom Wednesday morning.
"These high profile cases certainly warrant extra security," said Sheriff Chad Gay. "We have had security meetings, once the preliminary hearing was set, until now. Part of this is because the judge ordered he not be in visible restraints."
Next on the docket for Nelson will be an arraignment, set for 1:30 p.m. Nov. 3 by the court.
During a typical arraignment, a person charged with a crime is called before a criminal court judge, who reads the criminal charges, asks the defendant how they "plead to" the criminal charges — "guilty," "not guilty," or "no contest" — and announces dates of future proceedings in the case like pre-trial motions and trial.
Charges against Nelson include capital murder and three first-degree murder charges.
Both 35-year-old Nelson and 31-year-old Myrta Rangel were arrested Jan. 12 near Rosarito, Mexico, by Mexican authorities on warrants connected to the murders. Murder charges against Rangel were dropped. She is facing several weapons charges in federal court.
According to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, three people were found dead in a driveway in the 8600 block of Spring Lake Road near Alta Mills - between Hesston and Moundridge - Oct. 30, 2016. Investigators also found an 18-month-old child in the house, who was unharmed.