NewsCrime

Actions

Woman convicted in deaths of 6 KCFD firefighters seeks release from prison

Darlene Edwards' attorneys cite medical condition
Six Kansas City firefighters remembered 30 years after deadly explosion
Posted at 10:29 PM, Aug 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-28 23:29:02-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A woman convicted in the 1988 deaths of six Kansas City, Missouri, firefighters is seeking her release from prison.

Darlene Edwards' attorneys argued Friday that she suffers from severe medical problems, including morbid obesity and diabetes.

Edwards poses no threat to others or the community, one of her attorneys said in a virtual hearing before Senior U.S.District Court Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr.

Edwards, along with four men, were convicted in the deaths of Kansas City firefighters — Thomas Fry, Gerald Halloran, Luther Hurd, James Kilventon Jr., Robert McKarnin and Michael Oldham — caused by a November 1988 explosion at a construction site in south KCMO. The shockwave from the blast could be felt across the Kansas City area.

Her attorney said she has been a model prisoner during her 23 years in federal prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Becker, who prosecuted the defendants, reminded the judge a jury found all five guilty and their cases were not overturned on appeal. Becker also read a letter from a son of victim Robert McKarnin.

McKarnin's son followed his father into the fire service and is now retired. He said his father never saw his son's children or grandchildren.

Becker said the offenses were so serious that relief should not be granted and Edwards should be not be permitted to leave prison.

The judge took the case under advisement, but there is no word on when a decision will be announced.

Co-conspirator Bryan Sheppard, who was 17, was released from prison in 2017 after a judge granted a petition due to changes in juvenile sentencing laws.

For jurisdictions that utilize the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline, anonymous tips can be made by calling 816-474-TIPS (8477), submitting the tip online or through the free mobile app at P3Tips.com.

Annual homicide details and data for the Kansas City area are available through the 41 Action News Homicide Tracker, which was launched in 2015.