By Managing Editor Teri L. Hansen
It didn’t take long for Judge John Klenda to deny Samuel Darrah’s motion to withdraw his plea. Neither side presented anything new information. Klenda ruled based on the motion by the defense and response by the prosecution submitted earlier.
Darrah, 50, pleaded no contest to first degree felony murder, attempted aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery in November 2016. Darrah is one of three people who have been charged in the death of James “Frog” Avery Croft on Nov. 15, 2014. He was arrested Aug. 21, 2015, after avoiding law enforcement for more than a month. He was found hiding in a false wall in a home in Wichita, during a joint operation between U.S. Marshals, Wichita Police Department and Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents.
Back in 2016, Klenda sentenced Darrah to a hard 25-year life sentence for murder and a 100-month sentence for attempted aggravated kidnapping, to run consecutively, not concurrently. Darrah also was sentenced to 59 months for aggravated robbery, but that will run concurrently with the 25 years and 100 months.
According to affidavits and witness statements, on the night of Nov. 15, 2014, Darrah, along with Kamra Kay Farrell and Clinton Bascue, planned to confront Croft about a computer and $3,200 they believed he had taken from them. Farrell picked up Croft and took him to a location just outside Galva, to meet Bascue and Darrah.
After Farrell exited the vehicle, Bascue entered and stabbed Croft multiple times. Croft drove the vehicle a short distance before the car entered the ditch. The three were later found in a field near the car where Croft’s body, which had sustained puncture wounds, was discovered. An autopsy identified multiple stab wounds as the cause of death.
Darrah appealed Klenda’s decision. He contended that he did not personally kidnap or stab Croft. He also stated that he has struggled with drug addiction for his entire life and does in fact take responsibility for his role as he pleaded no contest. Defense also argued that Darrah has three children and with a family history of cancer, the sentences he has received will make it unlikely he will see his children outside of incarceration. In June of this year, the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed the sentence.
After the appeal Darrah filed a motion to withdraw his plea stating that the crime scene, the car in which Croft was killed, was not properly secured and later released and deprived him of obtaining relevant evidence for his defense. The motion also stated Darrah’s guilt rest upon the testimony of unreliable witnesses and hearsay.
The prosecution responded in opposition of the motion, stating that both issues had already been decided in the original preliminary hearing and that the deadline to appeal on it had passed.
Klenda apparently agreed with the prosecution, as he ruled in their favor. Darrah is currently incarcerated in Ellsworth Correctional Facility with no earliest release date listed.