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Murder suspects appear in court

By Katherine Wartell

New hearings were set in Riley County District Court Tuesday afternoon for two suspects arrested in connection with the recent apartment fire that took the life of one person. 

Virginia Griese, 19, and Patrick Scahill, 20, appeared Tuesday through closed-circuit television from the Riley County Jail in front of Magistrate Judge William Malcolm.

A preliminary hearing was set for Griese on March 22 at 1 p.m. She is represented by Attorney Jillian Waesche. That hearing will determine whether there is enough evidence to bind Griese over for trial.

During Scahill’s appearance, there was confusion as to who would represent him, so a status hearing was set for March 12 at 1 p.m. Scahill is in the process of hiring his own lawyer, indicating that to his knowledge, his family had hired a lawyer from Kansas City, Mo.

Both are charged with first-degree murder and aggravated arson in connection with a fire at Lee Crest Apartments, 820 Sunset Drive, on Feb. 6 that resulted in the death of Vasanta Pallem, 34, a tenant of the complex. Pallem died at Mercy Regional Health Center of smoke inhalation.

Pallem was a postdoctoral researcher in the chemical engineering department of Kansas State University.

Scahill is reportedly a former Kansas State University student, while Griese was a sophomore in biology at the time of her arrest.

Both were arrested on the murder and arson charges on Feb. 8, two days after the fire was allegedly set. They are confined to the Riley County Jail on $1 million bond.

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