Murder suspect arrested in Mississippi

5/11/2013

By The Telegram

By The Telegram

A Garden City man wanted for first-degree murder and aggravated robbery was arrested Thursday afternoon in D'Iberville, Miss., by the D'Iberville Police Department.

Fred Schmidt Jr., 33, Garden City, was arrested at 1:30 p.m. Friday on allegations of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery, in connection with the 2011 murder of 25-year-old Jeffrey Nichols.

According to a D'Iberville Police Department press release, D'Iberville Police Officer David Ballard was patrolling north bound on Interstate 110 Thursday when he noticed a white male walking north on the side of the highway.

After Ballard came in contact with the man, who was identified as Schmidt, he was informed by the Harrison County Communication Center in Mississippi that Schmidt was a wanted fugitive by the Finney County Sheriff's Office. D'Iberville Police Lt. Terry Hines said the Finney County Sheriff's Office had listed Schmidt as a wanted fugitive for first-degree murder and aggravated robbery on the National Crime Information Center database.

Finney County Sheriff Kevin Bascue said the warrant for Schmidt's arrest was signed on May 1 of this year.

"Once we got that warrant — that's when we did the NCIC entry," Bascue said.

Schmidt was initially arrested in April 2011 on allegations of second-degree murder in connection with the March 29, 2011, stabbing death of Nichols. That same day, Garden City police responded to St. Catherine Hospital where Schmidt had taken himself to be treated for stab wounds after he and Nichols were allegedly engaged in a fight at or near Nichols' 1909 Sloan St. residence, about a block from where Garden City Police Department later found Nichols' body.

Forensics reports later indicated that Nichols died from 45 stab wounds to the neck, face and back.

In May 2011, Schmidt was bound over for trial on charges of second-degree murder, along with several drug-related charges. Schmidt later pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder charge, claiming self-defense.

The Finney County Attorney's Office, upon further investigation, determined there was enough evidence to charge Schmidt with first-degree murder, but in a July 20, 2011, preliminary hearing, Judge Philip Vieux failed to find probable cause to bind Schmidt over for the first-degree murder charge.

The Finney County Attorney's Office appealed Vieux's decision, which required the initial case against Schmidt to be dropped, resulting in his release from the Finney County Jail on Aug. 3, 2011.

In June 2012, the Kansas Court of Appeals overturned Vieux's ruling and Schmidt was bound over on one count of first-degree murder, one count of aggravated robbery and three felony drug charges.

Hines said Schmidt had been traveling around the country and had only been on the coast for two days before being arrested by the D'Iberville Police Department.

Schmidt is being held at the Harrison County Adult Detention Center in Gulfport while awaiting the extradition process to return to Kansas. Finney County Attorney Susan Richmeier declined to comment on the case.

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