KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A Kansas City man pleaded not guilty to the murder of a longtime AT&T worker who died early Wednesday after an assault in Gladstone, Mo.
Bryan J. Middlemas, 35, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 58-year-old Kevin Mashburn. The Clay County Prosecutor's office also charged Middlemas with armed criminal action and first-degree attempted robbery.
He was arraigned Monday afternoon. No family members of the victim were present in court.
During Middlemas' arraignment, the judge said when combining all three charges, he could face two life sentences in jail or the death penalty plus fifteen years.
Family members said their final goodbye to Kevin Mashburn Sunday night. They told 41 Action News they are relieved that an arrest has been made so quickly and they're thanking the man who helped detectives track down the suspect.
Mashburn was working near the 2700 block of NE 57th Terrace in Gladstone early Wednesday morning, when police say Middlemas tried to steal Mashburn's wallet. When he would not give it up, court documents say Middlemas beat him with a crowbar.
Mashburn was able to turn on an orange safety light on his truck and text his night manager and dispatcher at AT&T.
Court documents reveal hours after the attack, Middlemas admitted to a friend, who he had served time in prison with, that he had robbed someone overnight then tossed his crowbar into a nearby pond or lake.
UPDATE | Police search Kansas City lake for weapon in Gladstone murder http://bit.ly/Urgtru
It was not until he read news reports that he realized he had killed Mashburn, according to court documents. That former cellmate reported Middlemas to authorties.
Mashburn's son, William, said they are grateful the tipster was brave enough to come forward.
"For whatever your reasons were for revealing that information, I'm not going to judge," he said. "I just want to thank you for doing that, whatever your reasons were."
During an interview with detectives, Middlemas said he worked as a construction worker that specialized in windows and doors and that he commonly used a crowbar for his job.
Detectives obtained a search warrant for Middlemas’ 2001 GMC truck. They found Middlemas’ tool box and discovered the crowbar was missing.
Police also found a significant amount of blood in Middlemas’ truck.
Mashburn was a 41-year veteran with AT&T and was a system technician. AT&T said he earned a Service Excellence Award for work in 2011 involving restoration of services in Joplin, Mo., after a tornado devastated the community.
Mashburn left behind his wife of 33 years, two sons, two daughters and a granddaughter.
"If everyone had a dad like mine, like ours, stuff like this wouldn't happen,” William said. “You'd just be raised a little better than that. I feel like my dad was newsworthy on any day just for being a rock star human being. It's unfortunate that anyone is learning about him now after something like this."
AT&T announced Thursday they were offering a $100,000 reward for tips that led to an arrest.
The family believes AT&T's reward had a huge impact.
Middlemas' bond is set at $1 million. His next court date has been set for October 2 at 1:30 p.m.
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