A preliminary hearing for a man accused of kidnapping and robbery ended abruptly Thursday afternoon when the judge ordered a witness be tested for drugs. The result might mean a do-over for two hearings.
The alleged victim in the March 29 incident testified in separate preliminary hearings in Ellis County District Court for David and Hollie Hunter, Hutchinson.
They are accused of robbing a 26-year-old Hays man of cash, cellphones and other items after David Hunter allegedly threatened the man with a hatchet. Both are in custody in the Ellis County Jail.
The alleged victim tested positive Thursday for several substances, Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees said.
“We are in the process of rescheduling the conclusion of this,” Drees said Friday of David Hunter’s preliminary hearing, but he believed both hearings will likely be redone.
Prior to her husband’s hearing, Hollie Hunter, 35, was bound over for arraignment on three counts of liability of a crime in connection with three of her husband’s charges and possession of methamphetamine.
David Hunter, 37, is charged with kidnapping, aggravated robbery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, possession of methamphetamine and interference with a law enforcement officer.
Upon hearing Magistrate Judge Richard Flax’s ruling there was enough evidence to proceed with the charges, Hollie Hunter sobbed “That’s not true.” Her crying could be heard in the courtroom even after she was led to a holding room across the hall while jailers moved her husband from another holding room into the courtroom.
At the beginning of Hollie Hunter’s hearing, Drees asked for the hearings to be conducted jointly, but Flax ordered separate hearings, citing a law enforcement request to keep the couple separated.
During his testimony in both hearings, the alleged victim spoke quietly and hesitantly, often said he couldn’t remember details and had to be prompted by Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees to clarify his statements.
While cross-examining the victim in David Hunter’s preliminary hearing, defense attorney Colton Eikenberry asked the 26-year-old man how well he knew the couple. The victim replied he had known them a week or two or three before the alleged kidnapping and robbery.
“We had only hung out twice,” he said.
Eikenberry asked if the man had done meth with them. He admitted he had.
Eikenberry asked the man if he were to take a urinary test, what would it show. The man admitted it might show marijuana and meth.
The man denied he was under the influence of drugs on the stand, but Flax called a recess and ordered the man undergo a urinary analysis.
“If it tests positive, you’ll have to find another avenue,” Flax said to Drees.
The prosecution’s only other witness to testify in each hearing was the Hays police officer who took the report from the alleged victim and arrested the Hunters after locating the vehicle the man had described.
The alleged victim testified the Hunters had come to his apartment on East 13th the night of March 28 and they all hung out together. Around 3 a.m. March 29, they left the apartment, with the Hunters agreeing they would take the man to his girlfriend’s home.
They first stopped at Kwik Shop, 1301 Vine, to get gas for the Hunters’ van. The alleged victim said Hollie Hunter was driving, and David Hunter was in the front passenger seat. After going through the stoplight at 13th and Vine, the man said, David Hunter turned and held up a hatchet in an aggressive manner and said “give me everything you got” or he would kill him.
“He didn’t care if he had to strip me naked in the country,” the man testified David Hunter told him.
The man testified he gave David Hunter his wallet, who removed about $100 cash and his drivers license and took a bracelet off the man’s wrist. He also had a backpack containing various items and a folding lawn chair in the van with him.
He said the van came to a four-way stop and David Hunter ordered him out of the car, then they drove away. The alleged victim was not clear on where the stop was. HPD Cpl. Philip Gage testified the man had said at the time of his report it was east of Toulon Avenue, several miles outside of town.
However, on the stand, the alleged victim said it was “past the last buildings in town.” Under questioning from Drees, he said they did not travel onto a dirt road, but suggested it was at a road that led to an interstate exit and might have been Commerce Parkway.
The man said he walked back to his girlfriend’s house, but she did not have a phone or internet, so he walked to his mother’s house, where the police were called for the report.
Gage testified the victim notified him later in the morning he had traced his phone online to a Hays hotel. Gage said he located a van in the hotel’s parking lot that matched the victim’s description and saw a folding chair on the back seat. Police would later find drugs in a pouch in the chair.
The Hunters came out of their hotel room while Gage was photographing the van, the officer said, and he questioned them. David Hunter initially gave a false name and birthdate, but after learning his correct identification, Gage learned there was a warrant for him from Reno County, and David Hunter was arrested.
Another officer who arrived at the scene said Hollie Hunter was a suspect in a shoplifting case at Walmart several days prior, and after identifying her on surveillance video, she was arrested.
After obtaining a search warrant for the hotel room, officers located a hatchet that matched the description the alleged victim gave, along with a backpack and other items he identified as his. Drugs and paraphernalia were also found in the room.