(St. Joseph News Press) – BETHANY, Mo. — Associate Circuit Judge Thomas Alley was present Wednesday to preside over a probable cause hearing for Samuel Borntreger, the Amish man charged with first-degree murder in the 2006 murder of his wife.
R. Christine Stallings, the Harrison County prosecutor, had subpoenas issued to compel the appearance of her witnesses in the case, which alleges Borntreger poisoned his former wife, Ann Yoder Borntreger, over the course of about a month in 2006.
Dressed in black, members of the local Amish community were back Wednesday to observe the proceedings.
But everything got cut short when Joshua Smith, Borntreger’s attorney, told the court his client wanted to waive the preliminary hearing and have the case transferred to Circuit Court.
Later, Smith told the St. Joseph News-Press the waiver would allow him to continue ongoing plea negotiations with the state.
The first-degree murder charge carries a possible sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Stallings told the News-Press back in February that she’d offered a plea bargain to Borntreger, but has declined to reveal any details.
Smith also made an oral motion Wednesday for bail, citing the fact the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department has filed no additional charges against his client.
Harrison County Sheriff Josh Eckerson told the court in February he’s currently investigating Borntreger for allegations of child abuse and sexual misconduct.
The state has maintained the possibility of additional charges makes Borntreger a possible flight risk and could endanger some victims if he were released.
Alley declined Wednesday to consider the motion, saying Smith can argue for his client’s bail in Circuit Court.
Circuit Judge Jack Peace will arraign Borntreger at 9 a.m. Thursday, April 28.
Law enforcement had no suspicions of foul play at the time of Anna Borntreger’s death in 2006.
The defendant, who had been living in Summer Shade, Kentucky, allegedly admitted his criminal act to Kentucky police in January.
Court records say Borntreger had repeatedly given his wife drinks with antifreeze and also inserted battery acid into her body on two occasions.