The own recognizance bond for WaKeeney Police Chief Terry Eberle was revoked and reinstated with new stipulations in a hearing Monday morning at the Ellis County Courthouse.
District Judge Blake Bittel granted Trego County Attorney Chris Lyon’s request to revoke bond and reinstate it on the condition Eberle have no contact of any kind with any witnesses except for his son. Furthermore, he will be under court supervision through Ellis County Court Services.
Eberle was arrested Wednesday by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation on suspicion of blackmail, intimidation of a witness, harassment by telephone, tampering with public records, attempted interference with law enforcement and theft.
As a condition of his bond, he was to have no contact with witnesses except for his son and with city officials only for police or city business. He violated that no contact order later that evening when visiting with Assistant Chief of Police Ashley Garza, the court found.
A bench warrant and request to revoke bond was issued Thursday afternoon, and Eberle was taken into custody and held in the Ellis County Jail.
“The conditions were very clear. There was discussion between the court and the defendant of what those conditions were,” Bittel said in his order.
“You’re not going to be conducting any police business until this case is resolved,” Bittel said.
Eberle’s attorney, Paul Oller, admitted to the court the chief said some things the evening after his arrest that probably shouldn’t have been said.
“I can tell you that if I had been representing him at that time, and because I’m representing him now, I would tell him he simply cannot have contact with any of the witnesses other than his son,” Oller said.
Oller said after the hearing he first discussed representing Eberle on Friday.
“The city of WaKeeney Police Department is going to have to figure out how to conduct its business without him,” Oller said.
Despite Oller’s statement recognizing Eberle violated the bond agreement, Bittel agreed to hear Lyon’s sole witness for the hearing, Garza.
Garza’s testimony was mostly a repeat of the written statement she provided for the court after her encounter with Eberle on Wednesday evening.
She said she was called at approximately 6:30 p.m. Wednesday by Eberle using his wife’s cellphone. He asked if they could meet, and he arrived at the Law Enforcement Center shortly after. They spoke in the officer’s office, since Eberle’s office still was taped shut from the KBI investigation, she said.
Eberle said he was going to work on the schedule, but Garza told him she already was working on it and had been appointed acting police chief by the mayor.
“He was visibly upset by that,” she said.
Eberle then went to speak to KBI agents — who still were at the LEC — about access to his office and offered to answer any questions they might have, she said.
Garza then walked out of the LEC with Eberle.
“He had stated that my name was all over the affidavit for his arrest. That it was nothing as to what I’d told him was stated by the KBI. I told him I was aware of that,” she said.
“He stated he felt like he was stabbed in the back and that we were supposed to be running this department together,” she said.
He then told her he would speak to her more when he had his attorney present, she said.
Lyon questioned Garza about Eberle’s demeanor.
“Red faced, pursed lips. His eye was twitching. He was visibly upset,” she said, adding there were “a few cuss words” after Lyon asked about his language.
On cross-examination from Oller, Garza did say his demeanor was not unusual for someone who had just been arrested and gotten out of jail.
Oller asked if Eberle had asked her about the investigation.
“So he didn’t try and glean any information out of you about the investigation?” he asked.
“He didn’t ask directly, no,” she said.
“He felt betrayed by you?” Oller asked.
“Correct,” Garza said.
After Garza left the stand, Lyon made his request to revoke bond and reinstate it with the condition he have no contact with any of the witnesses and that Eberle be put under supervision by court services to make sure he complies with the order.
“And, your honor, if there is any further violation, the state will file a motion requesting Mr. Eberle be placed in custody for the duration of the proceedings,” Lyon said.
Oller, in response, said he was not sure why Eberle’s son was included on the list of witnesses.
In the complaint filed Wednesday in Trego County District Court, the charge of attempted interference with law enforcement alleges Eberle attempted to convince Kathleen Fabrizius to give a false statement to the Trego County Sheriff “with the intent to prevent or hinder the prosecution of Joshua Eberle.” The charges of blackmail, harassment by telephone and intimidation of a witness or victim stem from the same August 2012 time frame.
“The issue, as I understand concerning his son, is that his son was the victim of a crime that took place back in 2012. Most of the allegations in this case concerning blackmail, telephone harassment, some of the intimidation of a witness are things that are alleged to have happened almost five years ago. I’m not sure why his son is listed as a witness other than he was a victim in a battering that was against him,” Oller said.
Lyon then amended his request to say no contact with all witnesses except for Eberle’s son.
Bittel granted the request. No further court dates have yet been set.