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Testimony Ends in Kan. Trial of Man Over 4 Deaths

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LYNDON, Kan. – A Kansas man accused of killing four family members was depressed because of his pending divorce and his wife’s lesbian affair, but it wasn’t severe enough to prevent him from considering his actions before and during the shootings, a psychiatrist testified during the man’s capital murder trial.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against James Kraig Kahler, 48, who is charged with killing his wife, their two teenage daughters and the wife’s grandmother. They were shot the weekend after Thanksgiving 2009 at the grandmother’s home just outside Burlingame, a small town south of Topeka.

Attorneys made their closing statements to jurors on Thursday, followed by deliberations. If jurors convict Kahler of capital murder, they’ll resume hearing evidence and deliberate again over whether to recommend a death sentence.

Defense lawyers contend Kahler snapped mentally under the stress of his divorce and his wife’s sexual relationship with another woman. He’d moved back to Kansas to live with his parents outside Topeka weeks before the murders, having once been utilities director in both Weatherford, Texas, and Columbia, Mo.

But prosecutors portray Kahler as calculating and cold-blooded, walking methodically through the murder scene-home, picking off his victims one by one without missing a shot from his assault rifle. The state attempted to bolster its case with the Wednesday testimony of Dr. William Logan, a Kansas City, Mo., psychiatrist who examined Kahler in March.

“My conclusion was that he was depressed but retained the ability to premeditate,” Logan testified. “I would not classify this as snapping.”

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