Jan 31, 2023

Hardwick murder trial sees more than 45 witnesses

Posted Jan 31, 2023 12:53 PM

Clarification: A name of one of the people connected to the search for Marion Bates was spelled incorrectly. Hutch Post has corrected the error.

Hutch Post

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — The jury was sworn in and the trial for the State v. Kyle Hardwick officially began in the courtroom of Judge Keith Schroeder on Jan. 25.   

The state called upon over 45 witnesses to testify in the case, as well as presented over 130 pieces of evidence.  

Kyle Hardwick, represented by Scott Loftis, an attorney from Ponca City, Oklahoma, is pleading not guilty to the charges of:   

Two counts of intentional and premeditated murder in the first degree.   

One count of theft of property or services, valued at $1,500 to $25,000.  

One count of theft of property or services of a firearm with a value less than $25,000.  

One count of solicitation perjury; testify to material fact in felony proceeding.  

The charges stem from the murders of Marion “Ed” Bates, 56, Hutchinson, and Phillip Anstine, 58, Hutchinson, in August 2021.   

In their opening statement, Loftis presented Hardwick’s defense.   

Loftis told the jury that on Aug. 24, 2021, Hardwick had travelled with Phillip Anstine to the “compound.”   

Described by the state in their opening statement, the "compound" is a property east of Hutchinson, where Marion Bates and Phillip Anstine would frequent. It had various other additions like buildings built on it, a camper, a dried-up pond, and burn pits. The two men would hang out there, shoot firearms, and overall hone their survival techniques.   

Hardwick did not know Marion Bates, but had a prior association with Phillip Anstine through work that included building houses, akin to Habitat for Humanity. Anstine was said to have overseen much of the work, while Hardwick assisted with installation.   

Hardwick called Anstine a friend and they were said to have a mutual interest in firearms. They were said to be close enough that they would travel to visit each other from time to time, but not frequently.   

Hardwick’s last visit to see Anstine was said to be because of personal problems in his life. He wanted get out of Kansas City for a while.   

Hardwick was said to have taken a Greyhound bus from Kansas City, Missouri to Hutchinson, Kansas to visit Anstine.  

Loftis told the jury that Anstine had dropped off Hardwick at the compound with a set of keys. Hardwick was said to have permission to drive Anstine’s truck and had those keys as well.   

Anstine then returned shortly after with Little Caesar’s pizza and Samuel Adams beer.   

“After drinking about half a beer and eating piece of pizza, Kyle starts to feel sick,” Loftis said.   

Hardwick’s symptoms were described as stomach pains, light-headedness, and disorientation. Hardwick was said to have voiced his sudden illness to Anstine, and then went to the camper on the property where he passed out. Hardwick was said to not remember passing out in the camper.   

According to Loftis, Hardwick woke up the next day, still disoriented, face down on a bed in the camper with his pants down, and a pain in his anus.   

Hardwick is said to surmise he was raped.  

Upon leaving the camper to search for Anstine out of concern, Hardwick returned to the camper.   

Anstine is said to have returned to the compound with a shotgun in his hands.   

Hardwick is alleged to have tried to tell Anstine of his situation, but became suspicious when Anstine is said to have been dismissive.   

Loftis said, when Hardwick then accused Anstine of raping him, Anstine cocked and aimed his shotgun at Hardwick.   

Hardwick is said to have played to Anstine’s paranoia by looking over Anstine’s shoulder, forcing him to turn around. Hardwick was then said to have used this gambit to wrestle the shotgun out of Anstine’s hands.   

Anstine was said to have then pulled a .380 semiautomatic pistol and pointed it at Hardwick, causing Hardwick to fatally shoot him with the shotgun.   

Still disoriented from the prior drugging and rape, the defense said that Hardwick then made his way to the pumphouse, north of the camper, for water.   

Loftis described to the jury what happened next as, “one of the real tragedies of this case.”   

Another man, unknown to Hardwick, appeared and shot at Hardwick. Hardwick shot back with the shotgun he had taken from Anstine, striking the second man.   

After a while, determining the man is dead, Hardwick approached the body and searched the man and discovered his identity as Marion Bates.   

Loftis said, more than likely Bates was not part of Hardwick’s alleged rape, and only came to aid his friend, Anstine.   

The state, consisting of District Attorney (DA) Thomas Stanton and Deputy District Attorney Andrew Davidson, called a number of witnesses, including friends of the victims, who corroborated the state’s opening statement that accused Hardwick of killing the pair for different reasons.    

Cathy Havel and Marion Bates had been close friends for around 11 years.   

Havel last spoke to Bates on Aug. 25, 2021, about a COVID-19 test she was going to take.   

Bates said he could not talk at that moment, and had something to do at the compound.   

Havel never heard back from Bates.   

Havel said she texted and called Bates multiple times on Aug. 26, 2021, and that it was unusual for Bates to not answer his phone in a timely manner.   

Evidence presented during the trial showed that Havel did try to reach Bates.   

Corroborating each other’s testimonies as they took the stand separately, Havel and Dawnita Hartung eventually went to the compound to search for Bates and Anstine.   

They noticed a red Ford pickup truck in the driveway.   

It was there they met a man, unknown to them, who identified himself as ‘Kyle Birch.’   

Havel and Hartung pointed out Kyle Hardwick as the man who identified himself as ‘Kyle Birch.’   

As ‘Birch,’ Hardwick told the two women that Bates and Anstine had gone to town to buy cigarettes about 40 minutes prior.  

The women found this suspicious given how close the nearest gas station was. 

‘Birch’ had told the women his mother had kicked him out.   

Hartung during her testimony, said ‘Kyle Birch’ was not someone Bates would hang out with.   

Later when the women returned to the compound, they found that the red truck, and Hardwick as ‘Birch,’ were gone.  

Havel and Hartung left notes in the driveway for Bates.  

Joined by Jared Bastion on Aug. 27, Havel and Hartung searched for Bates on the property.   

Kenneth Bates, the brother of Marion Bates, who was informed his brother was missing, gave Bastion permission to break into Marion Bates’ garage.   

There on the property, they found Marion Bates' hidden and unattended vehicle, with his wallet still inside.   

Shortly after, the authorities were called for a welfare check.  

The Reno County Sheriff’s Office responded and surveyed the property. Deputies located the body of Marion Bates that day. 

Bates was discovered in the dried up pond covered by tree limbs. Forensic evidence used to identify him revealed he had not been dead long and that his head was riddled with shotgun pellets.   

On Aug. 28, at 8 a.m., following the discovery of Bates, a search warrant was obtained for the rest of the property.  

According to Reno County Sheriff’s deputy Matthew Mondragon, three feet from where Bates was found, Anstine was discovered in a burn pit. Most of his body had been incinerated by a fire in the pit. Forensic evidence used to identify Anstine showed he had been shot in the head as well.   

Mondragon identified other pieces of evidence found on the property, including combustible materials, and items belonging to Hardwick.   

These items included two debit cards, one with Hardwick’s name, a social security card, also with Hardwick’s name, and a bus ticket with the name ‘Kyle Hardhack.’  

The defense did not cross-examine many witnesses, but they did Mondragon. Mondragon was asked to recall zip-ties found on the property and if they could be used to restrain somebody, which he confirmed.   

A drone was deployed by Reno County Sheriff Jeremy VanWey to gather another view of the crime scene. 

Some of the evidence collected from the scene included .12 gauge shotgun shells, gas cans, campfire fuel, the barrel of a shotgun from the burn pit Anstine was found in, a pair of gloves, two empty bottles of Kentucky Deluxe bourbon, two empty bottles of vodka, a Dollar General receipt, and soil samples with biomaterial.  

During his testimony, Daniel Nowlan, Reno County Death Investigator, noted for Anstine’s body to burn the way it did, the fire would have to been man-maintained for a time.   

During cross-examination by the defense, Nowlan did confirm that Phillip Anstine did not die by burning alive, and cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head. The same cause of death determined for Marion Bates. He also said that Hardwick acted in self-defense could not be ruled out.   

Following Daniel Nowlan, the jury was dismissed for the first day.  

On day two, Sedgwick County Forensic Center DNA analyst Therese Gibler testified that through her analysis, a sample she tested was almost certainly that of a child of Marion Bates' mother, Betty and a separate sample was almost certainly that of a child of Phillip Anstine's father, Duane. This was intended to establish that the victims were Marion Bates and Phillip Anstine. 

Sedgwick County Forensic Center's Dr. Scott Kipper performed the autopsies on Bates and Anstine and confirmed that the shotgun wound killed Bates. Anstine's body was significantly burned, but Kipper was still able to determine that a shotgun wound also killed Anstine. Kipper could not rule out the possibility that the shots were in self-defense. 

Several law enforcement witnesses were then called, including members of the Reno County Sheriff's Office and Maize Police, to establish the security of the crime scene and the circumstances under which Kyle Hardwick was found and arrested in Maize on Sept. 1. 

The prosecution also attempted to establish through law enforcement testimony that electronic devices, including what they believe to be a cell phone, were found in a fire pit on the property. In addition, they went over the circumstances in which Phillip Anstine's truck was found elsewhere in the county in October. 

Also, Anstine's friend Paul Jorgenson testified by Zoom from Wyoming to establish that Anstine told him he had both silver and gold on the property at the compound where the murders occurred. 

The majority of day three of the State v. Kyle Hardwick, saw testimonies from officials with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI).  

During the corroborating testimony of the KBI, regarding the inventory and investigation of the items found in the truck, established to belong to Phillip Anstine, day three saw the most evidence admitted by the state. Including: 

A Motorola blue cellphone; mesh covering; a beer bottle; two ghillie suits; a red bag containing ammunition; a pellet rifle; a total of six guns between five rifle cases; a camo duffle bag; metal siding that when removed, revealed seven ammunition boxes containing mostly 22 caliber ammunition; .12 gauge ammunition; a metal tool box; a vitamin container labeled ‘char-claw;’ two action cameras; jeep keys; as well as three empty packages of Marlboro Black 100s cigarettes.  

The same brand of cigarettes had previously been found in the camper located at the compound and the abandoned grain silo where Hardwick was arrested.  

The inventory of the truck was delivered in testimony by Chris Engle-Tjaden with the KBI. 

During cross-examination, the defense confirmed the existence of the .380 ammunition.  

Under defense examination, Engle-Tjaden said the only correlation to the mesh covering, was that it was found in the truck.  

Forensic testing revealed Hardwick’s DNA was found on a lot of the items. Latent prints belonging to Hardwick were found on a food container and soda bottles. A latent print of Hardwick’s palm was also found on the truck.  

Day three closed with people known to Hardwick taking the stand, Chase Mattingly and Sherry Reed.  

During his testimony, Mattingly, the boyfriend of Sherry Reed’s daughter, said he had overheard part of a phone conversation between Hardwick and Reed on Aug. 31, 2021.  

He only understood part of the conversation, and said he had heard Hardwick tell Reed he had messed up.  

During cross-examination by the defense, Mattingly said he did not know what Hardwick was referring to at the time.  

The state then called key witness, Sherry Reed.  

Reed said she has known Hardwick since high school.  

Reed, of Lawrence, Kansas, said she believed she still has a friendship with Hardwick. Hardwick had previously lived with Reed.  

Hardwick’s additional count of solicitation to commit perjury stems from a FaceTime call between the defendant and Reed. 

The FaceTime call had been played in court prior when Hardwick was bound over in June 2022, and was played again on Jan. 27.  

In the recorded FaceTime conversation, Hardwick repeatedly tells Reed not to show up for the hearing and, if she did testify, to tell the court she was mentally unstable and on drugs. At one time he said, “Please don’t come,” and repeatedly said, “you don’t have to show up.” 

Hardwick was also noted as telling Reed to “just tell the truth.”  

Much like her last reported appearance in court, Reed seemed very confused.  

She could not remember much about phone calls she got from Hardwick or her meetings with the Reno County Sheriff’s Office, nor whether she drove him from Lawrence to a bus station in Kansas City. 

During her testimony, Reed implied numerous times her confusion with her activities with the Reno County Sheriff’s Office, conversations with Hardwick, and whether she dropped him off at a bus stop were due to her not having her ‘calendar’ or her ‘notes.’  

In effort to help Reed remember, courtesy of the state, she was presented with copies of her prior testimony to aid her in current testimony. 

When asked, after taking a moment to review her prior testimony, Reed said she took Hardwick to a bus station in Kansas City in the morning of August 2021.  

When asked if she remembered telling the Reno County Sheriff’s Office, she was given $600 out of $1,200 from Hardwick, Reed said she only remembered having $600.  

Reed said she remembered giving a lot of evidence to the Reno County Sheriff’s Office, including a Dollar General receipt for a cell phone.  

Despite the aid of having a copy of her prior testimony, Reed’s memory issues persisted.  

The state and Judge Schroeder suggested Reed retrieve the notes she claimed to have, if they would aid with her testimony. However, Reed said they were in her car.  

Reed said she knew Hardwick was coming to Hutchinson via bus when she dropped him off in Kansas City.  

When presented with state evidence of an iPhone, Reed said she remembered providing the phone to the Reno County Sheriff’s Office.  

The state yielded their time with Reed to cross-examination with the defense.  

Reed told the defense, she does get a prescription for anxiety, as well as a prescription for Adderall.  

The first witness of day four of the trial, was Scott Anstine, the brother of Phillip Anstine.  

Scott Anstine said his brother usually stored his weapons in his house, and never just left them in his truck. He confirmed the firearms found in the truck in prior testimony were his brother’s.  

Scott Anstine said Phillip Anstine did not store his ammunition on the compound.  

Scott Anstine told the court, he is the heir to his brother’s estate.  

According to Scott Anstine, his brother kept his truck clean.  

During cross-examination and redirection, Scott Anstine did confirm that Phillip Anstine carried a pistol matching the description in the defense’s opening statement.  

The testimony of Det. Matt Franklin with the Reno County Sheriff’s Office, the lead investigator of the murders of Marion Bates and Phillip Anstine, recalled to the court the events of the case.  

According to Det. Franklin, no gold or silver had been found on the compound.  

Only Phillip Anstine will know where the boxes of silver and gold others say he had are buried on the property. 

During his testimony, it was established via state and defense that Kyle Hardwick and Phillip Anstine had a friendly relationship.  

Det. Franklin was able to recall that through interviews with Sherry Reed and her submission of case-related items from August 2021 to October 2021, Hardwick was able to be taken into custody.  

It was also established that it was unclear what started the fire used to burn Anstine’s body.  

During Sherry Reed’s second testimony during the trial, she told the court she remained in contact with Hardwick post-arrest.  

Following Det. Franklin's testimony, Reed had a much better memory, and even supplied more intimate details about Hardwick, including his work history. 

The state rested their case on Jan. 30. 

The defense will continue presenting its evidence on Tuesday, Jan. 31.

Hardwick is presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law.

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