- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 23, 2016

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - A teenager charged as an adult in the deaths of his mother and 11-year-old sister in a 2013 house fire was described Tuesday by a prosecutor as a scheming psychopath, with a defense attorney countering to jurors that his defendant has a mental defect.

Testimony began in the Reno County trial of Samuel Vonachen, who is charged with two premeditated first-degree murder counts related to the Hutchinson blaze that killed 11-year-old Audrey Vonachen and their mother, 47-year-old Karla Jo Vonachen. He’s also charged with attempted murder and aggravated arson.

A prosecutor, Stephen Maxwell, told jurors during opening statements that Vonachen - 14 at the time of the September 2013 fire - was a compassionless psychopath who wanted his family to die, the Hutchinson News (https://bit.ly/2beYPXl ) reported.

Maxwell said Vonachen waited for his family members to go to bed and waited for them to go to sleep before he retrieved a gas can from the garage and poured fuel around the staircase, then ignited it. Vonachen already has gathered prized possessions that included a guitar, a blanket and cell phone, taking those items with him, Maxwell said.

Vonachen, who father managed to escape the fire, later called 911 and reported the blaze, using a bogus name.



Vonachen later told police he set the fire to kill his family because “they were evil” and “just wanted them to die.”

Vonachen’s public defender, John Henderson, told jurors his client has a dissociative disorder and didn’t know what he was doing.

“When he called 911, he had a blue baby blanket clutched in his hand,” Henderson said. “When he walks up to Officer (Bobbie) Holmquist, he’s clutching that blanket in his hands. When he’s in the cage, locked in the backseat off the officers car, he wraps himself in the blanket. It’s on the camera.”

Later at a detention center, Henderson added, staff recorded Vonachen talking to himself “for two hours.”

“On another occasion, he’s talking to an orange,” Henderson said.

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