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Death penalty case from Cole Camp is being tried in Clay County

Updated: 2013-06-12T05:31:15Z

By GLENN E. RICE

The Kansas City Star

Robert B. Blurton had a bad reputation, even among his relatives and others who said they loved him.

And when Blurton’s aunt and uncle and their granddaughter were found shot to death in their Cole Camp home on June 9, 2009, several relatives identified him as a primary suspect, his lawyers said Tuesday in Clay County Circuit Court.

Blurton, 48, of Garnett, Kan., faces three counts of first degree murder in the deaths of 64-year-old Donnie Luetjen, 61-year-old Sharon Luetjen and their 15-year-old granddaughter, Taron Luetjen. Authorities are seeking the death penalty in the case, which is being tried in Liberty and prosecuted by the Missouri attorney general’s office.

Blurton, who has pleaded not guilty, was granted a change of venue from Benton County.

The slayings occurred two days before the bodies were discovered. Each victim had been bound and shot once. Blurton was arrested about three weeks later.

Authorities said emergency dispatchers received a 911 call from the residence at 10:16 p.m. June 7, the day of the killings, but the operator wasn’t able to determine what was said before the call disconnected.

Money and arrowhead stones were missing, Assistant Attorney General Kevin Zoellner said during opening statements.

Blurton’s DNA was found on a coffee cup at the house. Fingerprints and other evidence pointed to Blurton, Zoellner said.

Blurton’s lawyer, public defender Charles Moreland, said his client has an extensive criminal record but did not commit the murders. Moreland said the Luetjens often helped Blurton, such as by co-signing for a car loan and giving him a place to live after he left prison. Blurton is the son of Sharon Luetjen’s sister.

After the slayings, Blurton contacted police, told them about his criminal past and offered his assistance, Moreland said.

“When the family members found out, other relatives began to circulate his (Blurton’s) name as a suspect,” he said. “Robbie Blurton was not who shot his family.”

They jury is being sequestered during the trial, which is expected to last about two weeks.

To reach Glenn E. Rice, call 816-234-4341 or send email to grice@kcstar.com.

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