Darrah pleaded no contest in November to amended charges of first degree felony murder, attempted aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery.
Samuel Darrah, 47 of McPherson, received multiple sentences for his role in the death of James "Frog" Avery Croft on Nov. 15, 2014, Tuesday afternoon.
Darrah pleaded no contest in November to amended charges of first degree felony murder, attempted aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery. For the charge of first degree felony murder, he received life in prison with a mandatory minimum time served of 25 years in addition to lifetime post release supervision and electronic monitoring if and when he were to be released from prison. This sentence will run consecutively with the sentence for attempted aggravated kidnapping, for which he received 100 months in prison with the option of 15 percent good time credit and 36 months of post-release supervision. For the charge of aggravated robbery, Darrah received 59 months in prison with 15 percent good time credit and 36 months of post-release supervision to be served concurrently with the other sentences.
McPherson County Attorney Torrance Parkins, together with Assistant Kansas Attorney General Adam Zentner, prosecuted the case. Parkins and Zentner meticulously prepared the case for a two-week jury trial which was scheduled to take place in December of 2016.
“The case would have involved dozens of witnesses and nearly 100 prepared exhibits. However, Darrah entered his plea to the above charges prior to the start of trial,” Parkins said. “This delays any possibility of parole for the 47-year-old defendant by more than eight years beyond the 25 years required for count one.”
Defense counsel argued for more lenient sentencing, stating various reasons why they felt Darrah should not serve the maximum time for the charges. He is the last of three people charged and sentenced in the death of Croft. He was arrested Aug. 21, 2015, after avoiding law enforcement for more than a month.
He was found hiding in a false wall in a home in Wichita, during a joint operation between U.S. Marshals, Wichita Police Department and Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents.
"When we look at the culpability of all the defendants, I think the defense has a different idea of what happened," defense counsel Monique Centeno said. "Mr. Bascue is the actual person who stabbed Mr. Croft to death."
According to affidavits and witness statements, on the night of Nov. 15, 2014, Darrah, along with Kamra Kay Farrell and Clinton Bascue, planned to confront Croft about $3,200 they believed he had taken from them as well as a laptop computer.
Farrell picked up Croft and took him to a location just outside Galva, where Bascue and Darrah were waiting.
After Farrell exited the vehicle, Bascue entered and stabbed Croft seven or eight times before falling out of the vehicle. Croft drove the vehicle a short distance, lost control and entered the ditch.
The three were later found in a field near the car where Croft's body, which had sustained puncture wounds, was discovered. An autopsy identified multiple stab wounds as the cause of death.
The prosecution argued that Darrah was the central figure in the murder, as Darrah was key in the planning of the murder, bought a gun to use during the murder and organized the evening, though it admittedly did not go as originally planned. Croft was stabbed by Bascue rather than shot as witnesses say was the original plan.
"It all leads back to Darrah," explained Assistant Attorney General Adam Zentner.
Bascue, 33, of McPherson pleaded no contest to a charge of first-degree murder in April 2015 and subsequently was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Farrell, 28, of McPherson was arrested April 17, 2015 and was also charged with first-degree murder. At the time of her arrest, Farrell had two other pending charges against her, one charge of criminal solicitation to traffic contraband in a correctional institution from May 2014, and one charge of criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon from December 2013.
Farrell pleaded guilty to multiple charges in the Croft case on April 15, 2016. The charges included voluntary manslaughter, for which she received 19 years; kidnapping, for which she received 61 months; and aggravated robbery, for which she received 34 months.
She was also sentenced on charges of criminal possession of a firearm and criminal solicitation to bring contraband into a correctional facility. Farrell has also been sentenced to 36 months of post-release supervision.
"We do know from all the testimony and the preliminary hearing that Ms. Farrell participated in the planning of the murder of Mr. Croft...her story changed quite a bit," Centeno said. "We do know that [Darrah] is involved. His involvement is not as extreme as the state makes it out to be. He wasn't the person who actually did the killing."
Darrah will receive credit to his sentence for the 522 days he has already served, and he will register for life as a violent offender.
"The murder was investigated primarily by the McPherson County Sheriffs Department with assistance from the Kansas Highway Patrol and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. The strength and success of any criminal prosecution begins with great police work. The citizens of McPherson County are safe from three dangerous people because of the thorough and tireless work of their law enforcement community,” Parkins said.
Darrah does have the option to appeal his sentence.
“The guidance of Assistant Attorney General Adam Zentner was instrumental in securing this conviction and sentence. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt provides experienced prosecutors to assist Kansas County and District Attorneys statewide, and it is a state-funded resource,” Parkins said. “I requested their assistance in prosecuting this matter to help ensure justice for McPherson County at no additional county expense. I am committed to utilizing all available resources to effectively and efficiently protect and serve the citizens of McPherson County. "