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Muleshoe man found innocent by jury

CNJ staff reports

MULESHOE — A Bailey County jury found a Muleshoe man innocent of a murder charge on Friday, District Judge Gordon Green said.

Larry Brent Kitchens, 52, was found innocent of murdering Derwin Wyn Beauchamp, 43, in October of 2003 at the home of Vince Simnacher.

Kitchens is also charged with killing his ex-wife, Rhonda June Kitchens, 48, and Simnacher, 61, with an assault rifle. The two remaining cases will be tried at a date not yet decided, Green said.

Kitchens’ attorney Richard Wardroup told jurors Wednesday that his client accidentally killed his ex-wife and Beauchamp, who was found dead in a flower bed behind Simnacher’s home.

He said his client killed Simnacher in the heat of “passion,” and hopes that defense will result in Kitchens receiving a reduced sentence of between two and 20 years in jail.

Jury member Thurman Myers said the jury found Kitchens’ innocent of murdering Beauchamp because he did not knowingly and intentionally kill him, which is the definition of murder.

“(Beauchamp) was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that’s not to say the man pulling the trigger is not responsible for it, but not in that manner,” Myers said.

Myers said the jury deliberated for about three hours, but no one on the jury wanted to convict Kitchens of the murder charge.

District Attorney Johnny Actkinson told potential jurors last week he is not seeking the death penalty for Kitchens, who he claims committed capital murder.

In Texas, the charge of 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.