McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

September 5, 2013

Sheriff's house burglarized, son arrested

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — Two individuals are facing felony charges for allegedly burglarizing the home of Pittsburg County Sheriff Joel Kerns — including the sheriff’s 22-year-old son, Braden Kerns.

Braden Kerns and a woman identified in court documents as his girlfriend, Kyla Adams, 23, of Krebs, have been charged in Pittsburg County District Court with felony counts of second-degree burglary and grand larceny.

The two were charged in connection with the Aug. 29 break-in at the Bucks of Gaines Creek home of Sheriff Kerns and his wife, Darcy Kerns.

Braden Kerns and Kyla Adams are charged with taking silver coins, guns and cash from the home during the alleged burglary.

Meanwhile, after spending several days in the Pittsburg County jail in lieu of $25,000 bond, Braden Kerns was released Thursday on his own recognizance, Sheriff Kerns confirmed. Adams remained in the Pittsburg County jail in lieu of $25,000 bond as of Thursday afternoon.

Speaking of his son, Sheriff Kerns said, “He was released to us from the jail, and from the jail we went to a rehabilitative center.”

The sheriff said he filed the complaint that led to his son’s arrest.

“I had it done,” the sheriff said Thursday. He also said it was not about the property taken from the home.

“I’m just trying to save my son’s life,” the sheriff said.

He said his son has not lived at his (Sheriff Kerns’) residence for five years.

Joel Kerns said he personally took his son directly to a drug rehab center following his son’s release from jail.

The sheriff said he has told Adams’ parents he wants her to get some help and he is not pushing for her to have a long jail sentence in connection with the case.

“All we want is some help for her too,” the sheriff said.

In a probable cause affidavit, Pittsburg County Undersheriff Richard Bedford said he had been advised on Aug. 29 that deputy Danny McHenry was bringing Braden Kerns to the sheriff’s office. Bedford said he was advised that Braden Kerns and Adams had allegedly stolen items from the home of Joel and Darcy Kerns.

Bedford said the sheriff advised him during the investigation to have another agency work the case due to a conflict of interest. Bedford said in the affidavit that the McAlester Police Department assisted in the investigation.

McAlester Police Det. Lt. Kevin Hearod said Thursday that after the police received the request to assist the sheriff’s office, McAlester Police Det. Sgt. Brent McAlester took the lead in the probe, which resulted in the recovery of some property reported stolen from Sheriff Kerns’ residence.

Bedford’s affidavit states McAlester police obtained a search warrant for Adams’ Krebs residence, and some items allegedly taken from the sheriff’s residence were recovered.

Both Braden Kerns and Adams had pleaded innocent during an initial court appearance Tuesday before Special Judge Tim Mills at the Pittsburg County Courthouse. Assistant District Attorney Chuck Sullivan represented the District 18 District Attorney’s office for the initial court appearance. Neither Braden Kerns nor Adams had an attorney present, according to court records.

Mills set bond at $25,000 for both defendants and scheduled a preliminary hearing conference for both at 9 a.m. on Sept. 13, court records state.

Asked about the matter Thursday, District 18 District Attorney Farley Ward said the case will be treated the same as others.

“We’re handling this case like any other with the filing of the charge,” Ward said.

“In this instance, the sheriff and his wife are victims,” the district attorney noted.

Ward said he didn’t object to Braden Kerns being released on his own recognizance Thursday.

“We had no objection to his being released on his own recognizance as long as he went to a treatment facility,” Ward said.

The district attorney said every case is handled on its own merits.

Contact James Beaty at