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Convicted killer tied to Mid-Missouri murder denied parole in Kansas

Martin Priest, a convicted killer tied to a Mid-Missouri murder case, has been denied parole for a murder in Kansas.

In January, the Miller County Prosecutor’s Office charged Priest with the 1984 rape and murder of Tammy Rothganger, who was 15. At the time, Priest was the live-in boyfriend of Tammy’s mother. Rothganger’s body was never found.

Priest went before the Kansas Department of Corrections parole board on July 12 seeking earlier release for killing William Mayhugh in Wichita. His request was denied. Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman Adam Pfannenstiel could not say what day the board made the decision, but said the group cited the seriousness of Priest’s crime and his unwillingness to accept responsibility for it. Monday would have marked the first day he could get an early release from his life sentence. Priest will be eligible for parole again in August 2019.

Pfannenstiel said the board has “passed” Priest’s parole seven times now.

If released, Priest would remain under parole supervision until he died, Pfannenstiel said. Online court records show no updates in his Missouri murder case since January 25, when the Attorney General’s Office entered into it.

Rothganger and Mayhugh are two of five people Priest has been accused of killing. Priest stood trial for the deaths of Mayhugh and Freida Bayliff in Sedgwick County, Kan., but the jury only convicted him of Mayhugh’s shooting death. While in prison for that crime, prosecutors charged Priest with the death of 15-year-old Katrina Cheely, found months after her disappearance in late 1984, and six months after Rothganger’s disappearance, according to the dates provided in local reporting from the time. A jury eventually acquitted Priest of that killing.

In 1980, a Missouri jury convicted Priest of killing 12-year-old Tonya Lewis near Nevada, Mo. Lewis was found in a pond there. The Missouri Court of Appeals overturned it three years later, saying that since the coroner could not determine a cause of death, authorities could not claim she was actually murdered.

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