By Darrell Todd Maurina
Officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety arrested a Muleshoe man Saturday night on capital murder charges in connection with a triple slaying, according to Bailey County Sheriff Richard Wills.
According to Wills, Larry Brent Kitchens, 51, shot three people around 11:45 p.m. Friday at the home of Vince Simnacher on Highway 746 about 10 miles south of Muleshoe.
County Judge Marilyn Cox pronounced Simnacher, 61, Derwin Wyn Beauchamp, 43, and Kitchens’ ex-wife Rhonda June Kitchens, 48, dead at the scene, and later issued the capital murder warrant, according to a press release from Wills’ office. Kitchens was denied bond.
Wills referred further inquiries to Sgt. Dusty McCord of the Texas Rangers, whose duties include assisting smaller law enforcement agencies in Bailey, Lamb, and Lubbock counties with major crime investigations.
According to McCord, Kitchens used an assault rifle to shoot the three victims.
McCord said many details of the shooting are still sketchy and others cannot be released pending further investigation. A number of other people besides the three victims were at the home, though none of the others were injured, he said.
No one else besides Larry Kitchens is suspected of involvement in the shooting, McCord said.
“What I can tell you is they were having a get-together,” he said. “Kitchens invaded the house and shot the three people and returned to his house where he was ultimately arrested.”
McCord said when police arrived at Kitchen’s home, he was uncooperative and initially refused to come out of the home. Eventually police were able to talk Kitchens out of his residence and arrest him without further incident.
McCord said that in 27 years in Texas law enforcement he had never worked another triple homicide case. He said when the charge is capital murder, the death penalty is possible.
“In Texas, capital murder applies when a homicide is committed during the commission of another felony or more than two people are killed in the same incident,” McCord said. “I can’t comment on motive; the people who can comment would be the sheriff of Bailey County, or the District Attorney can comment if he chooses.”
Sheriff Wills could not be reached Saturday evening for further comment. District Attorney Johnny Actkinson refused any comment.
“I don’t comment on my cases, and I’m a public official but I am really offended that you would call me at home,” Actkinson said.
County Judge Marilyn Cox said she wasn’t sure what state law allowed her to confirm about the case.
“The incident just happened last night and it is a very upsetting thing for such a small community,” Cox said. “In my court I normally handle Class A and B misdemeanors and my knowledge of felonies is very limited.”
“You have to be so careful anymore not to give out information so the case would not be tried in the media,” Cox said.
Wills will hold a press conference at the sheriff’s office at 2 p.m. Sunday to provide further information, according to his office’s press release.
McCord said he was glad to be able to work as a Texas Ranger assisting smaller communities such as Muleshoe with major crime cases.
“We bring the resources of the state to the smaller communities and provide them technical and resource expertise when major incidents happen,” McCord said. “Typically what we do when we go to these smaller departments is we work as a team to investigate the crime scene, collect evidence, and develop investigative resources.”