Testimony begins in Kassen murder trial

October 22, 2019 | Courts


NEWKIRK — Kay County District Attorney Brian Hermanson gave the opening statements today in the Joel Benjamin Kassen murder trial.

Kassen, 26, Ponca City, is facing a second degree murder charge and a felony charge of conspiracy in the death of 22-year-old Cody Grantham.
Grantham died in a one-vehicle accident that occurred at 1:42 a.m. in the 800 block of Kygar Road on Sept. 12, 2015. (see story)

Daltyn Ryan Stout, who was then 19 and the driver of the vehicle, entered an Alford Plea on Aug. 18, 2017 to felony counts of manslaughter and conspiracy, and is serving a 20 year prison sentence with 10 years suspended at the R.B. Dick Conner Correctional Center in Hominey.
Kassen is accused of purchasing a 30-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a six pack of Apple Ale with Stout’s credit card at Lamp Post Liquor in Ponca City on Sept. 11.

Opening Statements
Hermanson told the jury that the facts will show that Stout had a new pickup and that he and a group of friends went to Lamp Post Liquor Store where Kassen purchased the alcohol using Stout’s credit card.
Hermanson said the receipt showing the alcohol purchase is important because it shows conspiracy.

“It shows Stout paying for beer that he was not old enough to buy and Joel Kassen signing for it,” said Hermanson.
“Grantham got off work and Stout and Kassen picked him up,” said Hermanson.

Hermanson said Kaw Nation officer Rob Seney will testify that he was sitting near Parker Pest Control when he heard a crash and called for help.
“The evidence is going to be that Stout’s blood alcohol content was .10,” said Hermanson. “Despite heroic efforts by police and the ambulance people Cody lost his life.” Hermanson said a blood test showed Grantham was not intoxicated. “The facts are there is one of two ways you can find him guilty of murder and one of those is providing alcohol to a minor, causing the minor to be drunk and causing the accident.”

Hermanson said the day after Grantham’s death, Kassen went to Grantham’s mother’s house and told her what he had done.

Kassen’s attorney Thomas Griesedieck addressed the jury. “I agree with a lot of what Mr. Hermanson said,” said Griesedieck. “At the end of this trial they are going to want you to call this murder. This is not a typical murder case. All I’m going to ask you to do is listen to each and every witness and at the end of this trial, I’m going to ask you to call Mr. Kassen the opposite of a murderer.”

Witness Testimonies
Laura Dollarhide
Dollarhide told the jury she was working at Lamp Lost Liquor the afternoon of the accident. She told the court that Kassen purchased a 30 pack of 12 oz cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a six pack of Red Apple Ale. She said Kassen was on crutches and that his friend, later identified as Stout, insisted on carrying the alcohol but she wouldn’t let him because he was under age. Hermanson showed the jury the receipt for the purchase on Stout’s credit card signed by Kassen.

Dollarhide told the court that there were four or five people inside the truck but that she was not concerned with their ages since they did not make the purchase.

Victoria Thurman
Thurman told the jury that she was 17 the night of the accident and was with Kassen and Stout when the alcohol was purchased. She said after the purchase was made, the group went to Stout’s father’s house, and hung out.
Afterwards, she said the group drove around for about 30 minutes before she was dropped off at home. She said about 45 minutes after she got home, one of the other passengers came to her home and informed her about the accident.

Ponca City Police Officer Nathan Loe
Loe told the jury he responded to the accident and talked with Kassen.
“He told me they were coming north on Kygar Road and were involved in an accident,” said Loe. The officer made contact with Stout. “He told me he was driving 39 miles per hour,” said Loe. “He was upset because Grantham had not been found at the time,” said Loe. Loe took Stout to the hospital for a blood draw and did not work the accident.

LouAnn Flowers
Flowers told the court that she is the registered nurse who performed the blood draw on Stout. She said there is a kit and that the draw consists of three samples. “After I completed the draw, I gave the kit to the officer. There were no issues with that draw,” said Flowers.Testimony continues Wednesday.

Joel Benjamin Kassen