Samuel Vonachen listens to testimony during his trial at the Reno County Courthouse
(Pool photo from the Hutch News)
HUTCHINSON, Kan. – The trial for a local teen accused of the murder of his mother and sister continued with expert testimony Thursday afternoon.
Samuel Vonachen is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and aggravated arson after allegedly setting a fire to his family’s home leaving his mother and sister trapped inside. He was 14 at the time of the fire back on Sept. 26, 2013.
The case is in recess until Friday morning where the final witness for the state will finish her testimony. That being Dr. Shelby Evans, a psychologist who also did an evaluation of the defendant.
On the stand before her was Dr. Trever Patton, is a Psychologist and an independent practitioner at The Therapy Center in Wichita. He did an evaluation on Samuel Vonachen originally at the request of his then defense attorney. He testified that the defendant may suffer “Anti-Social Personality Disorder.” When asked by Senior Assistant District Attorney Steve Maxwell if he suffered any type of mental disease or defect? Dr. Patton answered, “absolutely not.”
He also agreed with the states arguments that Vonachen was capable of forming intent to commit murder.
On cross examination, Dr. Patton told of the visit with the defendants father and was told by his father that his son knew what he was doing. The doctor described the teen as being vaguely immature, but extremely intelligent. That was his finding back when he met with him while he was 14. He’s now 17-years-old.
Early in the day, Hutchinson Police Detective Paul Sach who was on the stand testifying about the interview police conducted with the defendant where he basically admitted to starting the fire. Sach was one of the officers who did the video interview with Vonachen. But, while giving testimony, he showed a diagram of the family home and then showed the jury some squiggly lines the defendant drew in a “U” shape showing where he poured the gas.
During the video, the defendant was asked why he committed the crimes? “I wanted people to die, people are awful.” said Vonachen. Later, he was told the his mother and sister were gone and that he will never see them again. He was asked during the video interview if that bothered him and he said. “no.”
The state will wrap up their case Friday morning. The defense will then begin their side of the case and they’re expect to present their own expert testimony as to whether the defendant suffers from mental disease or defect.