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Kansas judge weighs evidence in deadly hoax call case

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Posted at 11:34 AM, May 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-22 12:34:57-04

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A California man accused of making a hoax call that led to police shooting an unarmed man in Kansas is returning to court, where a judge is set to decide if there is enough evidence to put him on trial for involuntary manslaughter and other charges.

Tyler Barriss, 25, is accused of calling police from Los Angeles on Dec. 28 to report a shooting and kidnapping at a Wichita home. The person who called said he shot his father in the head and was holding his mother and younger brother at gunpoint in a closet in the house in Wichita.

Police went to the house where they thought the crime was occurring, and an officer fatally shot 28-year-old Andrew Finch after he opened the door.

Barriss' preliminary hearing is scheduled before Sedgwick County Judge Bruce Brown in Wichita. Barriss also faces charges of giving a false alarm and interference with a law enforcement officer.

Prosecutors have declined to charge the police officer who fatally shot Finch. District Attorney Marc Bennett told reporters in April that the officer who fired the shot was stationed across the street, and fired believing Finch was reaching for a weapon when he moved his arm.

The shooting drew attention to "swatting," a practice in which a person makes a false report to get emergency responders to descend on an address. Finch had not been the intended target of the call.

Bennett told reporters after Barriss was charged in January in Kansas that there was no other situation quite like it to reference, acknowledging the "sort of novelty" of the case.

Bradley Sylvester, the attorney who represents Barriss, said Monday that what the defense is trying to accomplish at the preliminary hearing is to find out as much evidence as possible that is not in the reports and get as much information as possible.

Asked whether the defense believes the evidence supports the involuntary manslaughter charge, Sylvester replied: "That is a weird question because there is not another case quite like it."

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