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Judge rules prosecutors can seek death sentence in Oklahoma City cold case

The murder trial for Kyle Richard Eckardt was set for Sept. 26. Prosecutors allege Eckardt raped then killed Kathy Sue Engle in 1986.
BY NOLAN CLAY nclay@opubco.com Modified: November 30, 2010 at 6:12 am •  Published: November 30, 2010
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A judge Monday ruled prosecutors can seek the death penalty against a drifter accused of killing a Yukon woman 24 years ago.

The murder trial for Kyle Richard Eckardt was set for Sept. 26.

Prosecutors allege Eckardt raped then killed Kathy Sue Engle after he and an accomplice abducted her outside Oklahoma City's Shepherd Mall on April 23, 1986.

Eckardt was charged with first-degree murder after DNA evidence from the victim's abandoned car linked him to the crime. She was 41.

Eckardt, 45, has denied involvement.

Oklahoma County District Judge Lisa Davis said she could schedule the jury trial for earlier in 2011, but defense attorneys said they needed the time to prepare. They said, for example, records they wanted from a Houston hospital have been destroyed, some in flooding.

“I understand the difficulties in this case with it being a 24-year-old case,” the judge said.

Prosecutors needed the judge's permission on punishment, because they did not decide to seek a death sentence until after Eckardt had his preliminary hearing and was arraigned.

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