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Supreme Court releases for January 24, 2020

24 Jan 2020 1:30 PM | Tiffany Fisher (Administrator)

The Kansas Supreme Court released the following published decisions today:

Appeal No. 115,119: State of Kansas v. Charles Edward Williams

Archived oral argument video

A Sedgwick County jury first convicted Williams of unintentional second-degree murder in 2011. On appeal, Williams' 2011 conviction was reversed and remanded for a new trial. On remand, a jury again convicted Williams of unintentional second-degree murder. Williams appealed his second conviction, arguing that his statutory speedy trial rights were violated. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Caleb Stegall, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals' rejection of Williams' speedy trial claim. When appealing a conviction from a second trial after the first conviction was reversed on appeal, a defendant cannot raise for the first time an alleged statutory speedy trial violation that occurred during the first trial.

The Supreme Court also remanded Williams' case for resentencing because his out-out-state conviction was improperly scored as a person crime. Under the version of the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act effective at the time Williams was sentenced, an out-of-state conviction is classified as a person or nonperson offense by referring to comparable offenses under the Kansas criminal code. If the code does not have a comparable offense, the out-of-state conviction is classified as a nonperson crime.

While Williams' case was pending on direct appeal, the definition of comparable changed. To be comparable, the elements of prior out-of-state convictions must be identical or narrower than the elements of the Kansas person crime. The Supreme Court held Williams is entitled to the benefit of this change in the law because he was on direct appeal As a result, Williams' sentence was erroneous because the elements of Williams' out-of-state unnatural intercourse conviction are broader than Kansas' offense of aggravated criminal sodomy. Thus, Williams' out-of-state conviction should have been scored as a nonperson felony.

Appeal No. 116,629: State of Kansas v. Charity Downing

Archived oral argument video

The Supreme Court clarified the evidence required to convict someone of burglary of a dwelling. The decision came in a Reno County criminal case against Downing. She was convicted of burglary of a dwelling and attempted theft under $1,000, even though no one lived in the building at the time and the building's owner testified he had no plans to live there or rent it

The Court of Appeals reversed the burglary conviction, and the Supreme Court unanimously agreed, rejecting the State's challenge to that lower court ruling. The State argued dwelling could be determined by the building's construction characteristics.

"The statutory definition of 'dwelling' requires proof the burgled place was used as a human habitation, home, or residence when the crime occurred, or proof that someone had a present, subjective intent at the time of the crime to use the burgled place for such a purpose," wrote Justice Dan Biles, who wrote the opinion for the Supreme Court.

Kansas Court of Appeals decisions released today


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