Westboro protest update; Newell released from jail

The location for tonight?s (Dec. 8) discussion meeting concerning the Westboro Baptist Church protest in Marion on Sunday will be at USD 408?s Performing Arts Center, 125 S. Lincoln, and not the city auditorium, said Chief of Police Josh Whitwell.

The starting time remains 6 p.m. Topics to be covered will include legalities and what Marion County citizens should expect to encounter at the protests.

In addition to picketing the Holy Family Catholic Church at 415 N. Cedar from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Sunday, WBC members are also planning protests at the following locations:

— Marion Valley United Methodist Church, 300 E. Santa Fe St., from 10:10 a.m. to 10:40 a.m.

— Eastmoor United Methodist Church, 105 Eastmoor Drive, from 11 a.m. to 11:20 a.m

— Emanuel Baptist Church, 229 Walnut St. from 10:10 a.m. to 10:40 a.m.

— Marion Presbyterian Church, 610 E. Lawrence St., from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

WBC members will return to Marion on Tuesday, Dec. 14, to picket at Marion High School from 7:50 a.m. to 8:20 a.m.

The protests at Marion churches and the high school, according to a WBC press release, is a retaliatory move following Ryan?Newell?s arrest Nov. 30 in Wichita.

Newell, 26, who was severely injured in Afghanistan in 2009 while serving in the U.S. Army, is accused of five misdemeanors related to his surveillance of the Westboro group in Sedgwick County. The charges include one count of stalking, three counts of criminal use of weapons and one count of false impersonation, according to theSedgwick County District Attorney?s office.

Along with the misdemeanor charges, Newell also is facing a felony conspiracy to commit aggravated battery charge, which was filed Dec. 3 by Sedgwick County prosecutors.

The charge alleges that Newell was involved in a conspiracy in which firearms were taken in his vehicle to a place where WBC members were present.

Detectives arrested Newell Nov. 30 as he sat in his vehicle, backed into a parking spot outside Wichita City Hall. According to detectives, guns and ammunition were found in his SUV while five WBC members met inside with Wichita police officials to discuss protest safety issues.

Newell released on his own recognizance

After spending one week in the Sedgwick County, Newell was released Dec. 7 on his own recognizance. Prior to Newell?s release, bond had been set at $500,000.

As he walked out of the jail, Newell was asked by reporters if he had anything to say. He thanked everyone for their support and said he appreciated it. Asked about his next step, Newell said, ?We will get it figured out.?

Newell?s attorney, Boyd McPherson thanked the district attorney?s office for agreeing to ROR for his client.

One of the stipulations attached to Newell?s release, said Sedgwick County Sheriff Robert Hinshaw, is that he will have to report to the Veterans Affairs hospital for treatment.

Newell?s next scheduled court appearance is Dec. 16 for a preliminary hearing, but the case could be continued to a later date, according to McPherson.

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