Keith Hawkins in court, one step closer to trial date

Keith Hawkins (Photo Courtesy Harvey County Jail)

NEWTON, Kan. (KSNW) – Keith Hawkins is accused of capital murder in the death of Alyssa Runyon. He is also accused of killing her daughter, Zaylynn Paz. It’s a case that shook the town of Newton, ever since Hawkins was found and arrested August 8.

On Monday, family members of Runyon and her daughter got their first look at Hawkins in court. Attorneys on both sides are trying to work out details on what is and is not allowed in court.

Ed Runyon did not go into court to see the man accused of killing his daughter. But, he says, he’s anxious to see a trial date set as soon as possible.

“With this case it’s like… Hawkins… he was getting his 15 minutes of fame,”  said Ed Runyon on Monday. “So at this point life in prison without any possibility of parole is what I’m hoping for.”

Runyon says he wants a court date, soon. But, he says he also understands the DA’s office has to be certain of the facts.

One of the motions attorneys are considering before they can set a trial date includes whether Hawkins will be wearing street clothes or a jumpsuit at trial.

“Which I agree (with) you know, take a guy out of the jumpsuit, put him in plain clothes. I don’t disagree with that,” says Runyon. “I believe in the justice system as far as that is concerned. Everybody has a right to a fair trial.”

County Attorney David Yoder says he understand the family wants a trial as soon as possible. But, he says, his office is being thorough.

“Our office never bluffs in the filing of charges. If we don’t believe that we have a case that we can take to a jury and prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, then we won’t file the charges,” said Yoder. “But I understand, this was emotional today… Very much so. This was the first time the family in court saw the man accused of killing these two people.”

Yoder says his office is not ruling out the death penalty, and they may yet file that motion. Right now, Hawkins stands accused of Capital murder and first-degree murder. He remains in jail on $2.5 million bond. His next court appearance is December 8, when Yoder says they could have a trial date or other news to announce in the case.

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