Criminal charges dismissed against a construction company and the owners of a Schlitterbahn waterpark in Kansas City, Kansas, after a 10-year-old Caleb Schwab was beheaded while riding a 17-story water slide in 2016
Criminal charges dismissed against a construction company and the owners of a Schlitterbahn waterpark in Kansas City, Kansas, after a 10-year-old boy was beheaded while riding a 17-story water slide there in 2016.
Judge Robert Burns rejected the second degree murder charges against the owners, Jeff Henry, and John Schooley on Friday on the basis of that evidence before a grand jury during the pre-trial “improperly influenced” the decision of the jury to hand down indictments. Henry and Schooley were also faced with the costs of increased child endangerment and aggravated battery, Fox 4 KC reports.
The case surrounding the death of Caleb Schwab, 10, who died during the drive of the 17-story Verruckt slide (named after the German word for “crazy”). It was announced as the world’s largest water slide and was demolished last year in the light of Caleb’s death. The boy and his father, Minister of State, Scott Schwab, in the park during a special event for Kansas legislators. The Schwabs received nearly $20 million in settlements after their son was killed.
Judge Burns ultimately on the side of the defense that the prosecution’s use of a Travel Channel video about the Verruckt slide wrong security to judges during pre-trial hearings. The defense argued that the video was scripted, sensational, and meant for a tv audience – not to be perceived, as it were, a series of events.
The defense argued that the jury was not informed that they were watching a dramatization.
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Judge Robert Burns rejected the second degree murder charges against the owners, Jeff Henry (left) and John Schooley right) Friday on the basis of that evidence before a grand jury during the pre-trial “improperly influenced” the decision of the jury to hand down indictments
(Johnson County Jail)
Another point of discussion was the prosecution to use an expert witness, who insinuated to the jury that the water park’s owners were negligent in not complying with the American Society of Testing and Materials standards during the construction of the Verruckt. However, this was not a requirement under Kansas law until 2017.
The court also took issue with the expert witness’ reference of 2013-the death of another man at another Schlitterbahn park in Texas, called it “totally unrelated.”
Judge Burns said in his statement that the severity of the situation is not lost on him, despite his decision to dismiss the charges.
“I clearly recognize that the circumstances and events giving rise to these charges are undeniably tragic,” he said, according to the Kansas City Star. “A young child’s life was lost and his troubling death was mourned by family, friends and the entire Kansas City community and beyond.”
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Caleb was beheaded during the journey, the 17-story Verruckt slide (what is the German word for “crazy”), who was announced as the world’s largest water slide at the time
(Fox 4 KC)
However, the evidence to support the charges against the water park’s owners and the construction company that is built on the Verruckt was just not strong enough to justify the charges, the judge said.
“The court has serious doubts about whether the irregularities and inaccuracies improperly influenced the grand jury and ultimately reinforced the decision to indict these suspects,” he continued. “It’s very simple, these defendants were not afforded the due process protection and the fundamental honesty Kansas law requires.”
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Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said that he “respectfully disagree” with the judge’s ruling. The Schwab family has yet to make a statement.