Schlitterbahn’s Verrückt designer pleads not guilty in first court appearance
The designer of the Verrückt water slide at the Schlitterbahn water park in Kansas City, Kan., made his first appearance in the Wyandotte County Courthouse on Monday afternoon.
Fox4kc.com -- The designer of the Verrückt water slide at the Schlitterbahn water park in Kansas City, Kan., made his first appearance in the Wyandotte County Courthouse on Monday afternoon.
John Schooley was picked up just after 4 a.m. Friday from the Dallas County Sheriff's Office and transported to Kansas. He was booked into the Wyandotte County Jail later that afternoon and remained there all weekend.
U.S. Marshals arrested Schooley last Monday as he returned to the United States on a flight from China.
Schooley was reportedly out of the country on business but was aware that he had been charged and was wanted, a U.S. Marshals spokesperson previously told FOX4.
A grand jury indicted Schooley on charges of second-degree murder, aggravated battery and aggravated endangering of a child in the deadly water slide incident that killed 10-year-old Caleb Schwab in August 2016.
At his Monday court appearance, Schooley pleaded not guilty to all the charges filed against him.
His attorney, Justin Johnston, asked for a bond reduction from $500,000 to $250,000, arguing Schooley is not a danger to society or a flight risk. The judge said no, citing the seriousness and the number of charges.
The Wyandotte County judge ordered that if Schooley posts bond, he must surrender his passport and remain law abiding. Schooley's next status conference is scheduled for April 25.
Right now, Schooley and his co-defendents -- Schlitterbahn co-owner Jeff Henry and former park operations manager Tyler Miles -- are set to be tried together in September. But Schooley's attorney said he might file a motion to separate Schooley's trial from the other two men. Henry's lawyers are also hoping for separate trials.
Last week during Henry's hearing, the judge indicated based on what is determined during the course of the next few months, he could determine separate trials are warranted.
Officials in New Braunfels, Texas, confirmed to FOX4 that police were called Thursday night to a property Henry's family owned.
New Braunfels police said when they arrived, Henry was gone, but a woman at the property said Henry threatened her.
Henry's attorney Ron Barroso told FOX4 when Henry returned to Texas, he found his property on the family estate looted of items of personal value to him. He went to confront the person or persons he thought were responsible.
Barroso said he didn’t know whether this could affect bond but stressed Henry wasn’t under arrest. New Braunfels police confirmed the Schlitterbahn co-owner has not been charged with anything in connection to the alleged incident. But police said, if arrested and charged, it would be a misdemeanor charge under Texas law.
Henry was not ready to share his side of the story when he left the Wyandotte County Court on Thursday.
“I am not making any more comments. Do you mind? Just let me go home.” Henry said when confronted by reporters.
He told FOX4 off camera that he is incredibly sorry for Caleb Schwab's family and soon, he will share his thoughts on facing criminal charges in the 10-year-old's death on the Verrückt water slide he helped create.
“In his words, told me there's not a day goes by he doesn't think about Caleb Schwab," Henry's defense attorney Ron Barroso said. "He's torn apart by what happened out there.”
A judge ordered Henry to turn over his passport Thursday but denied the prosecution's request he wear a GPS ankle monitor.
“He's not going anywhere. He wants to come and defend himself against these charges," Barroso said. "I can tell you the allegations I read in the indictment are ludicrous."
The indictment against Henry shows from August 2014 until Caleb's death in August 2016, more than a dozen people reported injuries from the ride including concussions, whiplash and herniated spinal disk injuries.
The indictment also says emails from Henry shows he had a desire to rush the timeline and in the process skipped fundamental steps in the design process of the ride.
If convicted of murder, Henry could spend anywhere from nine to more than 40 years in prison. Henry's next status check is also planned for April 25.