A high-profile homicide in the town of Doniphan has seen charges against the three men accused of culpability in the fall 2019 death upgraded to murder in the second degree.
Charles Baskins, who is prosecuting the case as Doniphan County Attorney on behalf of the State of Kansas, filed the new charges in the Sept. 28, 2019, death of Jason Pantle against defendants Matthew “Cole” Scherer, 30, Brian A. Spilman Jr., 23, and Scott A. Vandeloo, 44.
The three had previously been charged with aggravated battery, though the Kansas Bureau of Investigation determined Pantle’s death to be homicide within a matter of days after it happened. Voicemails left with Baskins’ office on Thursday requesting comment on the current status of each defendant and on his reasons for upgrading the charges received no response.
The move comes after the three defendants appeared for pre-trial proceedings in November 2019. Judge Lara Johnson-McNish of the Doniphan County District Court denied requests for a bond reduction in the case at that time. As of Jan. 9, Spilman remains in custody at the Doniphan County Jail in Troy, pending fulfillment of a $150,000 bond agreement.
According to Maj. James Shirley, Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office, Scherer and Vandeloo, who had been held in the Leavenworth County Jail prior to the November bond hearing before Judge Johnson-McNish, left the jail late last year, amid transfer to Doniphan County custody.
Shirley said he had no information as to their custody status after that time. Scherer visited his family for the Christmas holiday, according to social media information, having apparently obtained release on bond.
During the November hearing, Johnson-McNish delayed further proceedings until 9 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, to allow for all witnesses set for pre-trial testimony to appear. All future judicial proceedings in the case are set to be conducted at the Doniphan County Courthouse, 120 E. Chestnut St. in Troy.
Pantle, age 42 at the time of his death, became involved in a confrontation at a private party on Sept. 22, 2019, in the town of Doniphan. He suffered significant injuries inflicted by blunt force, leading to his death on Sept. 28 at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas.