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Family of slain KCK officer upset with plea

Posted at 2:01 PM, Oct 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-25 23:27:41-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The man who killed Kansas City, Kansas Police Captain Robert Melton in 2016 pled guilty to felony first degree murder.

In a court hearing Thursday morning, Lewis pled guilty to first-degree felony murder, which carries a life sentence. Lewis will, however, be eligible for parole after 25 years.

Sentencing is set for Nov. 30.

In an e-mailed statement to 41 Action News reporter Sarah Plake, Melton's fiance Zeta Bates says the family was not made aware of the plea beforehand.

“We’re disappointed that the DA’s office didn’t feel the need to keep us in the loop and that the standard is being set that criminals who kill cops can plead to first-degree murder and face a sentence of 25 years to life in prison," Bates said in the statement. "We were prepared to see this through to trial and hoped for a guilty verdict for Capital Murder with the sentence of life without parole, the only acceptable sentence short of the death penalty for this type  of crime. Unfortunately for us, this doesn’t feel like justice.”

Unified Government Mayor/CEO David Alvey echoed Bates' sentiment in a news release.

“I am deeply concerned that the plea agreement does not match the exceptionally serious nature of this capital crime. I am also disturbed that neither the victim’s family members, nor our law enforcement community, were apprised of this plea agreement before it took place,” says David Alvey, Mayor/CEO of the Unified Government of Wyandotte/Kansas City, Kansas. “This plea agreement is a de facto devaluation of victim’s rights and the daily sacrifices of our law enforcement community.”

The Wyandotte County District Attorney's Office said in a statement Thursday afternoon that prosecutors did not reach a plea agreement with Lewis and that Alvey's comments were "wholly inaccurate" and misrepresented what occurred in court. A defendant can plead guilty to charges at any time, the DA's Office said.

"This statement was issued without any communication with the District Attorney's Office, which would have ensured that the information being distributed to the public was correct," the DA's Office said in its statement.

Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 4 President Scott Kirkpatrick released a statement Wednesday criticizing Dupree's handling of the case and even saying his group, "will work tirelessly to ensure that he only serves one term as District Attorney."

Today, the family of Captain Dave Melton, the members of the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department, and FOP Lodge #4 were completely blindsided by District Attorney Mark Dupree’s decision to accept a plea from Captain Melton’s killer. Now, instead of facing the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole, this cold-blooded murderer of a police officer will be set free after only serving 25 years.  This outlandish agreement was made without any input from Captain Melton’s family and demonstrates the District Attorney’s incompetence.  When the Melton family questioned him about this deal, Mr. Dupree, instead of explaining his decision, berated the family choosing to focus more on his personal reputation than the justice he is obligated to seek for the commission of this heinous crime. 

Captain Melton’s murder was unquestionably premeditated, and his killer deserved the maximum possible sentence under the law.  By agreeing to this deal, Mr. Dupree chose to shirk his legal responsibilities to keep our community safe.  It is a travesty of justice.  With this, and the other countless examples of Mr. Dupree’s incompetence, the FOP and its members will work tirelessly to ensure that he only serves one term as District Attorney.

Editor's note: The initial version of this story attributed Lewis' plea to a deal with Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree. The district attorney's office says no deal was ever in place.